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Private Edition, Distributed By 



Reprinted from 
Department of the Interior, Bureau of Education, Bulletin, 1921, No. 12 





Introduction 5 

Chapter I. — Early instruction in the vernacular preceding English gram- 
mar 11 

1. Character of vernacular instruction in English, 1596-1622 12 

2. Reasons for early emphasis on vernacular in America 15 

3. Character of vernacular instruction in America, 1620-1720 17 

Chapter II. — Early appearances of English grammar in America 21 

1. Schools and schoolmasters teaching English grammar before 1775.... 21 

2. English grammars in America before 1784 33 

3. Early instruction in English grammar in American colleges 36 

Chapter III. — Influences adding grammars to the curriculum: 43 

1. Franklin's English school 43 

2. The influence of the Philadelphia English school 49 

3. Educational theories supporting grammar in America up to 1775.... 55 
Chapter IV. — The rapid rise of grammar after 1775 70 

1. The legislative recognition of grammar 70 

2. The flood of textbooks after 1784 77 

3. The extent of instruction in grammar in representative States, 
1800-1850 82 

4. The status of grammar, 1850 to 1870 92 

Chapter V. — Traditional methods of teaching Latin grammar transferred 

to English grammar. _ „ 103 

1. Grammar as an art 105 

2. Methods used in studying Lily, and Latin grammar in general, 

seventeenth century _ 107 

3. Latin methods carried directly to English grammar memorization.... Ill 

4. Parsing 120 

5. False syntax 122 

6. Subordinate methods 124 

7. Methods used by Hughes and Byerley 128 

Chapter VI. — Gradual changes in method before 1850 132 

1. The nature of the dominating textbooks, 1823-50 134 

2. Other agents and agencies in the inductive approach 140 

3. Chief features of the inductive movement applied to grammar 144 

Appendix A. Chronological catalogue of English grammars in America 

before 1800 155 

Appendix B. A comparison of the English programs of Turnbull and 

Franklin ' 158 

List of authorities cited in this dissertation : 

I. Primary sources 161 

II. Secondary authorities 165 

Index „„ 169 



BEFORE 1850. 

"A history of English grammar in the United States would afford some 
amusement if a rational mind could derive any amusement from perusing a 
record of abortive attempts to teach the correct use of language by every means 
but actual practice in the art of speaking and writing it." — Wallis (W. B. 
Fowle) (1850). 



English grammar, as a formal subject, distinct from other branches 
of instruction in the vernacular, made but sporadic appearances in the 
American schools before 1775. After the Revolution its rise was 
extremely rapid. English grammar gained momentum as the hold of 
Latin grammar weakened, and by the end of the first quarter of the 
nineteenth century it became so generally taught that the common 
term grammar school, formerly applied to the secondary school of 
the Latin-grammar type, was now by common consent used to desig- 
nate an intermediate school with English grammar as its central 
study. After 1825 the prominence of English grammar became 
gradually more marked, until it reached its height about 1850-1875. 
Then began a period of decline, continuing until the time of the Com- 
mittee of Fifteen, which made its report in 1895. 1 

The past 25 years have seen a revival of attention to grammar, but 
of a very much saner type than before. No other study in the cur- 
riculum has had a more spectacular rise and a more dramatic fall. 
Moreover, concerning no other study to-day are educators more in 
doubt. 2 

The first purpose of this study is to trace the course of this rise and 
fall, with the changing educational ideals and theories accompanying 
it ; to analyze the causes of the varied changes of the subject, and to 
determine when, where, why, and by w T hom the successive modifica- 
tions were inaugurated and carried out prior to 1850. 

1 Rept. Com. Fifteen, Jour. Tree, N. E. A., 1895, p. 232. For recommendations concern- 
ing grammar see Rept. Com. Fifteen, Educational Review, IX, 234-41. 

2 The National Council of Teachers of English on Nov. 27, 1915, in Chicago, appointed a 
committee to consider and recommend a suitable treatment in the schools of formal 



The second purpose* of this dissertation is to arrange systematically 
these varying methods used from 1750 to 1850 and to show how they 
are interrelated both with the shifting conceptions of the nature 
and purpose of grammar and with the place given the study in the 

No effort seems to have been made to develop these two important 
aspects of English grammar with historical accuracy. Indeed, trea- 
tises on the general curriculum, in their infrequent references to this 
particular branch of the vernacular, are filled with inaccurate state- 
ments of fact and with misleading generalizations, particularly in 
regard to the early periods. 3 Only one who has had to deal with such 
inaccuracies can realize how difficult it is to ascertain the truth con- 
cerning English grammar. It is therefore with due reservations 
that the writer states, as his third purpose, an effort to establish with 
concrete data a basis of reliable facts, especially in the vague period 
of English grammar before the American Revolution. 

A fourth purpose which this study has been compelled to consider 
incidentally is to show how grammar was interrelated with declama- 
tion, oratory, composition, and literature, as these five branches of 
instruction in the mother tongue of a higher order than reading, 
writing, and spelling gradually made their way into the program of 
American schools. 


This investigation rests primarily upon an intensive examination 
of early English grammars, with special attention to those in use 
from 1750 to 1850. The date 1750 has been determined upon as most 
suitable to mark the beginnings of instruction in formal English 
grammar in America. 4 

The grammars, then, of the eighteenth century, many of which 
passed through several editions both in England and America, were 

8 Three examples of such errors will suffice to illustrate. One writer affirms : " English 
Grammar was there (in Caleb Bingham's school, 1790) taught for the first time in 
Boston." W. B. Fowle, English Grammar, C. S. J., XII (1850), 72. Here is an error of 
at least 23 years (see Ch. II, p. 23, which has been widely accepted as stating the truth. 
Again, Noah Webster affirmed that " no English grammar was generally taught in com- 
mon schools when I was young." (1770. Am. J. of Ed., XIII, 124. Letter to Henry 
Barnard, dated 1840.) This, coming from the author of at least the fifth American gram- 
mar (see Chap. II) (not the first, as commonly believed), has been largely influential 
in misinforming later writers upon the curriculum. Again, so careful a writer as Reeder 
asserts, concerning Noah Webster's " Grammatical Institutes of the English Language," 
" these books [a speller, grammar, and reader, 1783-1785] were the first works of the kind 
published in the United States. They were gradually introduced into most of the schools 
of the country." Reeder, Hist. Dev. of Sch. Readers, etc., 30. On the contrary, Webster"s 
grammar was not the first American grammar, and it enjoyed neither a long nor an exten- 
sive use as a textbook. W. B. Fowle, op. cit., 74 and 203. Reeder's statement is accurate 
concerning the speller and the reader, but it is quite erroneous concerning Part. II of 
Webster's series. 

4 See Chap. II, p. 33. 


largely influential in determining school practices of the day. Book 
learning in the eighteenth century had an even more literal significance 
than it has to-day in many an ill-conducted classroom. "As the text- 
book, so the study " is a comparatively safe assumption. 

So, too, for primary evidence as to the changes in methods of 
instruction, beginning about 1823, the writer has turned to the lead- 
ing texts of the various periods. For example, this dissertation 
points out that 1850 was the central turning point in the history of 
methods in grammar. 5 Greene's "Analysis " of 1847 was the culmi- 
nation of various influences breaking away from the older concep- 
tions and the forerunner of numerous other textbooks of the next 25 
years. Likewise Swinton's Language Lessons, of 1873, came as the 
result of scattered agitation and efforts of the previous quarter 
century, and in their wide adoption Swinton's Lessons fastened upon 
the schools the new idea of grammar as incidental to exercises in 
writing and speaking. And, of a more recent period, Swett's Gram- 
mar, with its imitators, has given the still newer turn of incidental 
study to the subject of formal grammar. 

In addition to the textbooks themselves the educational writings of 
authors contemporary with the various periods have thrown consid- 
erable light upon various advances made in classroom methods. To 
be sure, a commentator like Comenius, Hoole, Brinsley, Locke, Frank- 
lin, or Mann is usually, in his theory, more or less in advance of his 
time, and the reforms he advocates are indicative of methods which 
do not become general for a considerable period after his advocacy of 
them. 6 

In addition, the writer is indebted to Dr. Marcus W. Jernegan^ of 
the University of Chicago, for generous advice and assistance, and 
especially for permission to use his voluminous data on private 
schools taken from colonial newspapers. This material has been of 
invaluable aid, especially in indicating many of the private schools 
of the eighteenth century whose schoolmasters were pioneers in 
adding English grammar to their curricula. 

~See Chap. VI, p. 133. 

6 For example, in 1786 Benjamin Rush, of Pennsylvania, advocated, concerning the 
teaching of English grammar, principles which even in 1920 are very far from being 

" Let the first eight years of a boy's time be employed in learning to speak, spell, read, 
and write the English language. For this purpose, let him be committed to the care of a 
master who speaks correctly at all times, and let the' books he reads be written in a simple 
but correct style. During these years let not an English grammar by any means be put 
into his hands. It is to most boys under 12 years of age an unintelligible book. As well 
might we contend that a boy should be taught the names and number of the humors of 
the eye or the muscles of the tongue, in order to learn to see or to speak, as be taught the 
English language by means of grammar. Sancho Panza in attempting to learn to read by 
chewing the four and twenty letters of the alphabet did not exhibit a greater absurdity 
than a boy of seven or eight years old does in committing grammar rules to memory in 
order to understand the English language." Wickersham, Hist, of Ed. in Pa., 234. 
" Between his fourteenth and eighteenth years he should be instructed in grammar, 
oratory," etc. Ibid., 255. 


The history of the actual teaching of English grammar is quite 
different from a history of the theories of teaching grammar. 
Throughout this study the author has endeavored to keep strictly to 
the former point of view— that is, to keep a firm hold upon the actual 
classroom practices of successive periods. Evidence of an extensive 
sale of textbooks, for example, is taken as reliable proof as to what 
constituted the subject matter of schoolroom activities. 

More reliable, however, than textbooks or educational writings for 
determining the exact status of English grammar at any definite 
period are statutes, curricula, and school reports. Wherever it has 
been possible, these sources have been utilized to determine how far 
school practices in any period conformed to the theories of the best 
educational writers and embodied the innovations of the most pro- 
gressive textbooks. Incidental to these, information has been derived 
from town histories, reports of educational commissions, early jour- 
nals of education, and such other information as may be found in 
miscellaneous sources, like newspaper advertisements, reminiscences, 
lives of schoolmasters, and histories of individual institutions. 



This study has to deal primarily with English grammar in Ameri- 
can schools. Main interest therefore centers upon the eighteenth and 
nineteenth centuries. Indeed, the year 1750, the date of the first 
important vernacular school in America to center its instruction 
around English grammar, is about 200 years too late at which to 
begin the study of the development of this branch of teaching. But 
the important fact to bear in mind is that this is a study of English 
grammar, not of the vernacular. Moreover, it is a study of English 
grammar in America, not in England. Therefore its treatment 
plunges in medias res and touches upon the vernacular before the 
eighteenth century and upon grammar in England only as demanded 
by the course of the subject in America and as directly inherited from 
England in theories, textbooks, and schoolroom practices. 


It has apparently been the fate of new branches in vernacular 
instruction, once introduced into American schools, to be carried to 
excess. Perhaps this is not true of reading and writing; but of the 
newer branches, spelling, which began correctly as an incidental 
study, became a craze in the first quarter of the nineteenth century 
and came to occupy an undue proportion of attention. Elaborate 
school instruction was supplemented by evening spelling schools and 
spelling matches. Webster's blue-backed speller enjoyed a sale 


unrivaled in our school annals. 7 Fifty years after the dominance of 
spelling English grammar rose to its height, occupying, from 1850 
to 1875, three to seven years of the secondary schools and, in addition, 
a prominent place in the high schools. After 1875, with the sub- 
sidence of grammar to its correct place as an incidental study, com- 
position gained in strength, and, together with literature carefully 
prescribed by college entrance requirements, to-day monopolizes one- 
fourth of the high-school curriculum, while formal language lessons 
predominate in the elementary school. 

The history of spelling and of grammar suggests that 50 years 
hence educators will be saying that in the two decades from 1900 to 
1920 the school had not yet discovered that language habits are not 
most advantageously acquired in formal composition ; that literature 
is a present reality, with living poets and prose writers, rather than a 
dusty contribution from masters who lived centuries ago. The his- 
torian of the future may smile at the excess of oral composition when 
carried into elaborate State declamatory contests. Indeed, in the light 
of the past one argument for increasing the time given to formal classes 
in the vernacular is at least questionable. If children can not spell, 
we are urged, give them more classes in spelling; if they are gram- 
matically inaccurate, give them more grammar ; if they can not write, 
give them more classes in composition ; if they can not appreciate the 
pale heroes of King Arthur's court, give them Milton's minor poems 
and Carlyle's Essay on Burns. The very questionable logic of this 
argument led to excess in the time devoted to spelling and to gram- 
mar, and it has been a powerful factor in advancing composition and 
literature to their present status. 

There can be little doubt that the period 1900 to 1920 is the heyday 
of formal composition and of the classics in the English curriculum, 
just as the date 1825 was the heyday of spelling and that of 1860 the 
heyday of grammar. And still the cry is that English departments 
are failures and their product exceedingly imperfect, and English 
teachers are demanding ever larger appropriations. English is more 
fortunate than its sister studies in being able to have the value of its 
product weighed every day in the practical life of its graduates. 
English welcomes criticism of its deficiency. English is experi- 
menting with conversation lessons, with present-day literature ; Eng- 
lish is begging other departments to cooperate in establishing correct 
language habits: English is endeavoring to put oral composition on 
a sensible basis. Here and there a daring reformer is advocating less 
time for formal classes in English, their place to be taken by more 
general and uniform guidance in language habits. Here and there 

7 " It is computed that more than 80,000,000 copies of this spelling book were sold before 
1880." Evans Am. Bibl.; 6, 263. 


school officials are even rejecting for other departments teachers whose 
English is slovenly, just as they reject candidates whose appearance is 
careless and uncleanly. 

History in the teaching of the mother tongue is being made to-day. 
Therefore the writer feels that any light which may be thrown upon 
the history of any one branch of English instruction from its very 
beginning in America may assist modern reformers in securing a 
better perspective as they advance to more important innovations. 
The heart of the newer movements in the vernacular is well expressed 
by Sir Oliver Lodge : " Language should be learned in a pupil's 
stride — not by years of painful application." This sentiment, more- 
over, is the direct opposite of the spirit and aims of instruction in 
formal grammar in America up to 1850. 

Chapter I. 


The history of the educational changes by which instruction in the 
English vernacular has been grafted upon the classical instruction of 
the sixteenth century involves two distinct movements. The first 
occurred after the Reformation; it was led by Comenius, Brinsley, 
Hoole, and others ; it resulted in the addition of reading, writing, and 
spelling in the mother tongue to the curriculum of elementary schools 
and to the lower classes of grammar schools. 8 The second movement 
may be said to have begun in 1693 with John Locke and his immediate 
followers ; it resulted in the addition of English grammar, composi- 
tion, both oral and written, and literature to the curriculum of inter- 
mediate schools and colleges. 9 

While it is true that these two movements, corresponding roughly 
to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, respectively, were closely 
related, they were also quite distinct and involve two different con- 
ceptions of education. The seventeenth-century reform demanded the 
vernacular for two reasons: First, as a necessary preliminary for 
boys who were to continue their education in the classics; second, as 
suitable instruction for the masses, not destined for higher schools, 
but needing to read the Bible in the vernacular, according to the 
spirit of the Reformation. 

The important consideration is that the seventeenth-century reform 
still regarded education in the classics as of highest worth. On the 
contrary, the eighteenth-century reform began where the former left 
off. It found the elementary branches of the vernacular established 
as the preliminaries of classical instruction. John Locke headed the 
revolt against the Latin curriculum as the sole content of secondary 
education. He and. his followers insisted that the mother tongue 
itself is better suited than Latin to serve at once as the end and the 
vehicle of secondary education. They placed English in the cur- 
riculum not as preliminary to but as a substitute for the Latin tongue. 10 
It was through this eighteenth-century movement that English gram- 

8 See Watson, Beginnings of Mod. Subj., 20, for excellent discussion of this earlier 

• See Chap. Ill, p. 55. 10 Full discussion in Chap. Ill, p. 55. 




mar, composition, and literature entered the curriculum and bega: 
the course which has brought them to the dignified place they occupy 

It is obvious that a study which seeks to trace the entrance of 
English grammar into American pedagogy has to deal primarily 
with the eighteenth-century reform. In other words, the point of 
departure in this dissertation may be said to be 1693, the date of John 
Locke's Thoughts on Education. The first movement for the ver- 
nacular, with its causes and results, is postulated as having been com- 
pleted, and the later reform of the eighteenth century begun, by that 

This thesis shows that English grammar was introduced primarily 
as the core study of a secondary school curriculum of the English 
rather than of the Latin type; that the traditions of Latin gram- 
mar as the heart of grammar-school instruction pointed at first posi- 
tively and directly to English grammar as the core of an English 
program of equal rank with the Latin grammar program. In other 
words, this dissertation is the story of the process by which the 
dreary grind of Latin grammar was supplanted, for the great 
majority of American school children, by the almost equally futile 
grind of English grammar. 

Although we have selected 1693 as the starting point of our discus- 
sion, let us now examine briefly the character of the vernacular 
instruction in England and America from 1620 to the end of the 
seventeenth century. This is done merely to establish a suitable 
background for the entrance of English grammar. It is a glance at 
what vernacular instruction was just before grammar appeared in 



In 1596 Edmund Coote published in London his famous vernacular 
textbook for " pettie " schools. The title indicates its nature : " The 
English School Master, Teaching all his Scholars, of what age 
soever, the most easy, short, and perfect order of distinct Reading, 
and true Writing our English-tongue. * * * " 1X Brinsley and 
Hoole, leading school writers of their day — 1600-1650 — both speak of 
Coote's School Master, 1596, as a popular text for elementary 
schools. 12 Before 1656 the book had passed through 26 editions, 
proof enough of its popularity. 13 

An examination of the contents of this text enables one' to see early 
seventeenth-century vernacular instruction in England. Thirty-two 

"Barnard, Am J. of Ed., I (1856), 309. 

"Brinsley, Ludus Literaris, 18. Hoole, New Discovery, 43. 

18 Watson, Grammar Schools, 177. 


pages are given to instruction in the alphabet and spelling ; about 18 
pages to the catechism, prayers, and psalms ; five pages to chronology ; 
two to writing copies; two to arithmetic; the remainder to lists of 
hard words " sensibly explained." The child using this book first 
learned his letters, then short syllables, next longer ones, then reading 
by the word method, with spelling incidental to both alphabet and 
reading. Writing was insignificant. 1 * 

Brinsley's course in the " pettie " school consisted of studies in this 
order: The alphabet, the ABC (including spelling) taught by the 
use of Coote's School Master, the primer " twice thro," The Psalms 
in Meter, The Testament, and the " Schoole of Vertue," together with 
" The Schoole of good manners." 15 

A complete description of vernacular instruction at the end of the 
sixteenth century is given by Charles Hoole. In 1659 Hoole pub- 
lished "A New Discovery of the Old Art of Teaching School," having 
been written 23 years before. 16 Hoole, to be sure, was mainly inter- 
ested in the Latin school, but he also prescribes a " petty schoole " for 
children between the ages of 4 and 8. Hoole was a practical school 
man, head master of the Rotherdam Grammar School in Yorkshire, 
and principal of a private school in London. 17 

Hoole based his discussion of methods upon the following arrange- 

1. Preparatory lessons in vocalization before learning the letters. 

2. Learning the alphabet with the hornbook. 

3. Proceeding from syllables of two letters, various vowels with 
each consonant, using dice, pictures, charts. In his primer Hoole 
gives a picture with the letters. " I have published a New Primar. 
In the first leafe whereof I have set Roman Capitalls . . . and have 
joyned therewith the pictures or images of some things whose names 
begins (Hoole's grammar is imperfect) with that letter, by which a 
childs memory may be helped, ... as A for an Ape, B for a 
Bear, etc." 

4. Teaching the child to spell distinctly; pronounce the vowels 
alone ; teaching the force of the consonants ; syllables of one consonant 
before a vowel ; teaching the diphthongs ; then begin spelling of words 
(learning six rules of spelling). 

14 Watson, 177. It is worth noting that English grammar made its way into America 
chiefly through Dilworth's " New Guide to the English Tongue," 1740. which was a reader, 
speller, and grammar combined. A composite textbook was popular when books were 
scarce. Coote's composite book was an early prototype of such texts, of which Dilworth 
was the most widely used in America. (See Ch. II, p. 33.) 

15 Brinsley, 14-18. Tbe title of this book is " The Schools of Vertue and booke of good 
Nourture for cbyldren and youth to learne theyr dutie by," by Francis Seager (earliest 
edition 1557; one as late as 1677). Reprinted, Early English Text Society, The Babees 
Book, 332-55. 

"Reprinted in Am. J. of Ed., XVII (1864), 195, 225, 293; more recently by C. W. 

17 " The Petty Schoole " was printed in Paul's Church Yard in 1659. Bardeen's reprint, 
27 (title page). 


5. Teaching him to read any English book perfectly. 

The ordinary way to teach children to read is, after they have got some knowl- 
edge of their letters and a smattering of some syllables and words in the horn- 
book, to turn them into the A B C or Primar, and therein* to make them name 
the letters, and spell the words, till by often use they can pronounce (at least) 
the shortest words at first sight. 

For these books Hoole substitutes the Lord's Prayer, the Creed, 
and the Ten Commandments printed in Roman capitals. He would 
have the child pronounce the words he can at first sight and " What 
he can not, to spell them, and to go them often over, till he can tell 
any tittle in them either in or without the book." 

Then Hoole adds reading over " Psalms, Thankesgivings, and 
Prayers . . . till he have them pretty well by heart." Textbooks 
are " The Psalter, The Psalms in Meeter, The Schoole of good man- 
ners, ... or such like easy books " ; then the Bible, beginning with 
Genesis. Finally have him " take liberty to exercise himself in any 
English, book." When " he can perfectly read in any place of a book 
that is oifered him ... I adjudge him fit to enter into a Grammar 
Schoole, but not before. . . . For thus learning to read English per- 
fectly I allow two or three years time, so that at seven or eight years 
of age a child may begin Latine." 18 

What the curriculum of the average charity school of England was 
about 1700 may be seen in an account of the Charity Schools of 
Great Britain and Ireland. Orders which were in effect in many 
schools were as follows : 

Pronunciation: The Master Shall make it his chief Business to Instruct the 
Children ... in the Church Catechism ; which he shall first teach them to 
pronounce distinctly and plainly. 

Spelling: The Master shall teach them the true spelling of Words and Distinc- 
tion of Syllables, with the Points and Stops, which is necessary to true and 
good Reading. 

Reading: As soon as the Boys can Read completely well, the Master shall 

Writing: teach them to Write a fair legible Hand. 

There is presented an account of 100 such schools (1710), with 
2,480 boys and 1,381 girls, which had been set up during the preceding 
14 years. A common stipulation in many gifts for these schools runs 
" for teaching them to Read, Write, Cast Account, and Work, and 
for instructing them to the knowledge of the Christian Religion." 19 

On the basis of this examination of Coote, Brinsley, and Hoole we 
are able to see the nature of vernacular instruction in England in the 
better " petty " schools from 1569 and continuing until the eighteenth 

18 Bardeen, op. cit., 31-53. 

Hoole adds a chapter to his " Petty Schoole " in which he points out how children for 
whom Latin is thought unnecessary may be employed after they have learned English. 
Ibid., 54. 

19 An account of the Charity Schools of Great Britain and Ireland, 9th ed., 1710, 3-15. 


century. If Hoole is correct, " the A. B. C. being now (I may say) 
generally thrown aside, and the ordinary Primar not printed," 20 the 
use of these two famous educational instruments was diminishing, 
together with the hornbook. 21 

We may sum up the English practice at the time the first American 
colonies were established by saying that vernacular instruction con- 
sisted of elementary reading, spelling, and writing; that it retained 
an intensely religious purpose, involving ability to read the Bible; 
that it was regarded as preliminary to the study of Latin. We shall 
see that these characteristics were transferred bodily to the first 
elementary schools of America. 


Two major reasons led the English colonists to stress the mother 
tongue in elementary instruction. As is customary, our consideration 
begins with the Puritan colony of Massachusetts, the character of the 
first settlers, their purpose in coming to America, and their major 
interests in the new land. Only eight years after the settlement of 
Massachusetts Bay that Colony established a college in Cambridge. 
Harvard was founded in 1636. 22 This highly significant act was due 
to the fact that a large proportion of the first settlers were thoroughly 
acquainted with the higher education and educational institutions of 
the mother country. 23 By 1650, within New England, there had set- 
tled at least 90 men, ministers, the leaders of Massachusetts Bay, most 
of whom were graduates of Oxford and Cambridge. Three-fourths 
of these were from Cambridge, the hotbed of revolt against Laud and 
established religious authority. They had been students there between 
the years 1600 and 1650, contemporaries of Robinson, Cromwell, and 
Milton. Of this number were John Cotton, John Ward, John Har- 
vard, John Winthrop, Henry Dunster, and many others, not all 
clergymen. By 1650 the immigration into New England had reached 
20,000 of pure English stock, and it is estimated that there was one 
person of higher education for every 40 families. The proportion 
for Massachusetts Bay was even larger than the general average for 
New England. This unusually large proportion of educated men 
were leaders of groups of immigrants, some of whom had themselves 
been landed proprietors in England and had enjoyed at least an ele- 
mentary education in the grammar schools of the mother country. 24 

It was among such a people, whose actions were directed by such 
leaders, that an early movement for education might be expected. 
The colleges and the grammar schools first established were, of course, 

20 Bardeen, op. cit., 50. 

31 The standard work is Tuer, History of the Horn Book. 
82 Rec. Co. Mass. Bay, I, 183. 

n F. B Dexter, Influences of the English Universities in the Development of New 
England, Proc. Mass. Hist. Soc, 1879-1880, 340 et seq. 

24 See M. W. Jernegan, The Beginnings of Pub. Ed. in N. E., Sch. Rev., XXIII, 326. 


classical. They were in response to the ideal of the leaders that the 
State was responsible for the education of the most promising youth 
in order to perpetuate an educated leadership. Colleges were to train 
leaders, and as the college curriculum was entirely made up of classi- 
cal studies, classical grammar schools were necessary to prepare boys 
for college. 

But the colonists of Massachusetts were actuated by another ideal 
which grew out of their intensely religious nature and was the very 
heart of the Protestant movement the world over. This idea, ardent 
champions of which were Luther and Erasmus, was that the mass of 
the people should be able to go directly to the fountain head of all 
religious authority — the Bible itself. 25 To this end the Holy Word 
was brought out of the Latin into the vernacular and the people 
taught to read. Not all the people were to be educated in grammar 
school and college ; that was reserved for the few destined to become 
leaders. But the rank and file of the people themselves must be able 
at least to read the Bible. In Germany, England, and America this 
ideal w T as the primary moving force which led to the introduction of 
universal instruction in the mother tongue. 

We have, then, in the desire for educated leadership and in the 
desire for universal acquaintance with the Scriptures two impelling 
forces which actuated Puritan New England in her first educational 
endeavors. 26 

Evidence on this point may be found in the first two general laws 
concerning education passed by the General Court of Massachusetts 
Bay. The act of 1642 ordered selectmen to take account of children, 
" especiallity of their ability to read & undestand the principles of 
religion and the capital lawes of the country." 27 Even more strongly 
suggestive is the language of the law of 1647, which made compulsory 
both elementary and secondary education : " It being one chiefe piect 
(point) of y* ould deluder, Satan, to keepe men from the knowledge 
of y e Scriptures, as in form r times, by keeping y m in an unknowne 
tongue." 28 This is the expression of the second ideal — that the 
Scriptures, in the known tongue, are to be accessible to all. " So in 
these latt r times, by pswading from y e use of tongues, y l so at last y e 

25 Luther translated the Testament in 1522 ; the entire Bible in 1534. Monroe, Cyc. of 
Ed., 4, 94. 

28 Probably none of the other causes designated by Watson for the seventeenth-century 
movement for the vernacular in England were operative in America. Watson assigns, first, 
the growth of a national spirit after the Armada ; second, the fact that England took more 
pride in her national independence of thought, and especially sought to give all people the 
ability to read the Scriptures ; third, the feeling that, as the French tongue now contained 
the subject matter which had formerly been confined to the Latin, English might also be 
so utilized ; fourth, the newly acquired literary possession in Spencer, Shakespeare, and 
Milton ; and, finally, the increase of textbooks in English, beginning with the authorized 
prints of 1545, until " by the second half of the seventeenth century every important 
department of knowledge had been expounded in an English textbook." Watson, op. cit., 

a7 Rec. Co. Mass. Bay, II, 9. » Ibid., 203. 


true sence & meaning of y e originall might be clouded by false 
glosses of saint seeming deceivers." 29 Here is the expression of the 
ideal for leadership educated in Latin and Greek. Elementary edu- 
cation in the vernacular and secondary and higher education in the 
classics were provided for by colony law in Massachusetts Bay in 
1G4T, only 19 years after the original settlement. As we have seen, 
the ideals and motives were primarily religious. We are safe in say- 
ing not only that the American colonists inherited from England the 
grammar school and the college, but that they endeavored to go beyond 
the mother country in teaching the vernacular. Vernacular instruc- 
tion is indissolubly associated with the Reformation, out of which 
the first New England colonies sprang, # 



Colonial laws of the seventeenth century indicate that vernacular 
instruction consisted primarily of reading and secondarily of writing. 
In Massachusetts Bay the law of 1642 prescribed " ability to read & 
undestand the principles of religion ;" 80 the law of 1647 " to write 
and read " ; 31 that of 1683 " to wrighting schooles ... in towns of 
five hundred families." 32 Reading and writing were similarly the 
content of vernacular education in Connecticut, 33 in New Haven, 34 in 
New York, 35 in New Hampshire, 36 in Pennsylvania, 37 in Maryland, 38 
and in South Carolina. 39 

That reading and writing were the two branches of the vernacular 
at first stressed in colonial schools is further borne out by examining 
the practice of various towns. In 1693, Dorchester, Mass., ordered 
a sum to be paid to Thomas Waterhouse, who " is bound to teach to 
read it shalbe left to his liberty in that poynt of teaching to write, 
only to doe what he can conveniently therein." 40 Governor Winthrop, 
under date of 1645, writes : " Divers free schools were erected in Rox- 
bury . . . and in Boston . . . teach to read and write and cipher. . . . 
Other towns did the like." 41 Moreover, after the general colony 

29 Ibid. The early colony law of Connecticut, 1650. also indicates as a primary purpose 
of education, teaching children to read the Scriptures. Col. Rec. Conn., I, 555. 

30 Rec. Co. Mass. Bay, II, 9. 

31 Ibid., 203. 

32 Ibid., V, 414. 
88 Col. Rec. Conn., I. 521. 
34 New Haven Col. Rec. (1653), 65, 583. 
36 Ann. of Albany, IV, 15, 16. 
88 Bouton, Prov. Papers of N. H., Ill (1692-1722), 718. 

87 Clews, op. cit, 281 and Pa. Col. Rec, I, 91. 

88 Steiner, Hist, of Ed. in Maryland, 19 ; and Clews, op. cit., 416, 

89 Ibid., 457. 

40 Orcott, Nar. Hist. Good Old Dorchester, 292. 

41 Winthrop, Hist, of N. E., Savage, II, 264. 

60258°— 22 2 


laws of Massachusetts Bay and Connecticut prescribed reading and 
writing, in 1647 and 1650, respectively, towns began to comply. For 
example, in Watertown, 1650, " Norcroffe was Chosen Schoole Master, 
for the teaching of Children to Reed to write & soe much of Lattin 
as . . . allso y* teace such as desire to Cast accompt." 42 Records 
indicate that other towns employed teachers to teach reading and 
writing. 43 It appears, therefore, that the English teaching of this 
period was exceedingly elementary. Reading was common in all 
schools ; writing was considered worthy of more advanced teaching in 
some towns, but usually accompanied reading, taught by the same 
master; casting accounts and arithmetic began to appear toward the 
end of the century and were usually classed with the English branches. 
In addition to the public schools so far considered, there were many 
private schools, in one order of which — the " dame " schools — 44 
primary instruction in the mother tongue was the acknowledged 
purpose. For example, in Maiden, Mass., Rebecca Parker kept such 
a school for several years. 45 Salem voted £15 to " Widow Catherine 
Dealland," in 1712, for teaching school among them. 46 One other 
typical example will suffice. In Hartford, Conn., 

there were in those times private schools of a lower grade. At least one such 
school was kept in Hartford, that of Widow Betts, " Goody Betts, the School 
Dame," who died in 1647. Her pupils-were young children, whom she taught the 
simple lessons of the hornbook. 47 

In short, Judd, in his history of Hadley, sums up the general 
practice when he says: 

There were many cheap private schools ... in the seventeenth and eighteenth 
centuries, kept by " dames "... where girls were instructed to read and sew, 
and in some small boys were*, taught to read .... Writing was considered far 
less important .... Probably not one woman in a dozen could write her 
name 150 years ago.* 8 

The instruction in these dame schools, which persisted well down 
into the nineteenth century, 49 consisted of the simplest elements of 
the vernacular. The textbooks have been described so often that a 
mere mention here will suffice. Books chiefly employed were the 
A B C, 50 the Horn Book, 51 the New England Primer, 52 the Bible, 53 

42 Watertown Rec, I, 21. 

43 Rec. Town of Dedham, III, 213; ibid., IV, 3; Rec. Town Plymouth, I, 116; Currier, 
Hist. Newbury, 396 (quotes town record) ; Nash, Hist. Sketch Weymouth, 126; Corey, Hist. 
Maiden, 603 ; Felt, op. cit, 439 ; Bailey, Hist. Andover, 519 ; Bicknell, Hist. Barrington, 524. 

44 See discussion in Updegraff, Orig. Mov. Sch. in Mass., 136-49. 

45 Corey, op. cit., 439. 

46 Felt, op. cit., 1, 442 ; see also ibid., 445, 9, 50. 

47 Love, Col. Hist. Hartford, 254. 

48 Judd, Hist, of Hadley. 56. 

"They continued in Boston at least until 1819, when free primary schools were estab- 
lished. W. B. Fowle, Barnard, Ed. Biog.. 129. 
60 See Eggleston, Transit of Civilization, 211. 

81 Tuer, History of Horn Book. 

82 Ford, The New England Primer. 

83 Felt, Annals of Salem, I, 437. 


Catechisms, 54 and the Psalters. 85 We find, then, that before the 
appearance of the higher branches of the mother tongue the colonies 
had provided instruction generalty in reading and writing. At first 
there was little spelling as such, what there was being incidental to 
reading. Spelling is the logical outcome of the ABC method of 
learning to read, proceeding from the individual letters to syllables 
of two letters, then to easy words, and so forward. Littlefield refers 
to spelling books printed by Stephen Day, in Cambridge, Mass., as 
early as 1645, 56 and asserts that Coote's School Master was extensively 
used in New England. 57 Other spellers intervened, but not until 1740 
and after, when " Dilworth's New Guide to the English Tongue " was 
published in London, imported, and reprinted in America in enor- 
mous quantities, 58 could formal exercises in spelling be said to have 
become universal. 

The first book printed in America which attained wide popularity 
was the New England Primer, which was first published in the 
decade 1680-1 690. 59 Ford estimates the total sale of this book at 
3,000,000 copies between 1690 and 1840. One firm, Franklin & Hall, 
of Philadelphia, sold 37,000 copies between 1749 and 1766. 60 But the 
wide sale of the New England Primer did not begin until after 1690 ; 
before that time the colony schools had to depend very largely upon 
books imported from England. Bibles 61 were the universal reading 
books in the early American schools, convenient textbooks because 
they were found in . almost every home, logical textbooks because 
knowledge of religion was legally prescribed. For the very earliest 
instruction in the dame schools, ABC books, hornbooks, and psalters 
preceded the Testament and Bible. In short, the procedure described 
by John Locke — " the ordinary road of the Horn Book, Primer, 

" Littlefield, Sch. and Sch. Books, 105. 

65 An excellent description of the Primer, the Horn Book, and the Psalter as used in the 
schools of Salem before 1791 is found in Felt, op. cit., T, 436-7. Isaac Parker, who was one 
of Dame Rebecca Parker's pupils in Maiden, 1786, said that the only book he had was a 
Psalter, and that he had only a little reading and spelling. Corey, op. cit., 648. 

"Littlefield, op. cit., 118. 

"Ibid., 119. 

68 See Chap. II, p. 34. 

89 Paul Leicester Ford, the historian of the New England Primer, attributed the first 
edition to Benjamin Harris, printer, between the years 1687-1690, the exact date unknown. 
Ford, op. cit., 16. Worthington C. Ford has recently found evidence of an earlier New 
England Primer printed by John Gaine. London, entered in the Stationers Register, under 
date Oct. 5, 1683. The Nation, Jan. 11, 1917, 46. 

60 P. L. Ford, op. cit., 19. 

« " The Bible and Psalter and the New England Primer were the only reading books " 
(before 1770). Burton, Hist, of Ed. in N. H., 1842, 585. The Bible was used for the 
senior class, John Tbelwell's school, Wilmington. Del., before 1775. Powell, Hist, of Ed. 
in Del., 42. " Bible and Catechism for more than a century after settlement of Newbury 
were the only reading books used in school." (1634-1734.) Carrier, Hist. Newbury, 408. 


Psalter, Testament, and Bible " — was the common practice 82 in 
America, as in England. Many towns prescribed for their schools 
Latin masters and either ushers or English masters, together with 
writing masters or scribes. 63 The town school received pupils after 
they had learned the first elements in dame schools, and, in the 
absence of the latter, themselves gave elementary instruction in read- 
ing, writing, and casting accounts. Such a school, for example, was 
set up in Hartford, Conn., in 1755. " This society judge necessary 
that Exclusive of the Grammar School there be . . . two other schools 
sett up and supported for an English Education only . . . for Read- 
ing, Writing and Arithmetic." 64 

Naturally we should not expect to find grammar and composition 
as distinct studies in this early period, when instruction in the ver- 
nacular had for its primary purpose preparing children for the 
grammar schools and for its secondary purpose teaching them to 
read the Scriptures, with ability to write even more subordinated, 
and spelling largely, if not entirely, incidental. How English gram- 
mar was grafted upon these more elementary branches is the main 
subject of the succeeding chapter. When the Latin-grammar school 
was proved to be ill suited to the majority of pupils and when the 
demand increased for a type of secondary education to supplant the 
Latin, English grammar came naturally to the fore. Instruction in 
vernacular grammar could be imparted by exactly the same methods 
used in the teaching of Latin grammar. The passing of Latin gram- 
mar is contemporaneous with the rise of vernacular grammar. The 
older order — reading, writing, spelling, and Latin grammar — now 
became reading, writing, spelling, English grammar, all in the 
mother tongue. Such a procedure would bear out Eggleston's unsup- 
ported assertion that " by slow degrees it came to pass that the Eng- 
lish studies at last drove the sacred Latin from the free school founded 
at first for it alone." 65 

w Locke, Thoughts Cone. Education, Quick, 134. See excellent account of such books 
used in Connecticut schools. " The early schoolbooks of New England were the same as 
those of Old England. The same books . . . were used in Hadley and other towns. Such 
books were sold by John Pynchon, of Springfield, from 1656 to 1672 and after, and by 
Joseph Howley, of Northampton, to his scholars, except hornbooks, from 1674 to 1680, and 
both sold many Catechisms ; . . . neither sold spelling books. . . . They were but 
little used in the seventeenth century. Samuel Porter, of Hadley, who died in 1722, 
sold Primers, Psalters, Testaments, and Bibles ; also Catechisms, Psalm Books, and Spelling 
books, chiefly Dilworth's, were not common on the Connecticut River until after 1750." 
Judd, op. cit., 61. 

In 1805 H. K. Oliver was placed at 5 years of age in the Boston school of Mr. Hayslop. 
" By him I was taught my A B C D E F, my ab, abs. and my eb, ebs." Later young Oliver 
learned elementary reading and spelling in the school of Dame Tileson. Barnard's Am. J. 
of Ed.. XXVI, 210. 

63 Usher provided for John Douglas (1710), master of the grammar school in Charleston, 
to teach reading, writing, and arithmetic. Clews, op. cit., 457. 

Thomas Makin (Meakins) appears to have kept a " free school in the town of Phila- 
delphia " (1693). Makln was afterwards the usher or assistant of George Keith, the first 
teacher of the William Penn Charter School, 1687. Wickersham, Hist, of Ed. in Pa., 41-43. 

•* Col. Rec, II. Love, Col. Hist. Hartford, I, 153. 

«Eggleston, op. cit, 236. 

Chapter II. 



In Chapter I has been discussed the background of vernacular 
teaching in the American colonies, to which was added during the 
eighteenth century the formal study of English grammar. The pres- 
ent chapter will seek to establish the facts that a few schools attempted 
English grammar as such before 1750; that between 1750 and 1760, 
in the middle colonies at least, considerable headway in the subject 
was made in private schools ; that after 1760 private schools of both 
the northern and southern colonies fell into line ; that by 1775 English 
grammar was taught with some frequency in many private schools 
throughout the country. 


BEFORE 1775. 

In this section is gathered from various sources, especially from 
newspaper advertisements, 66 evidence of instruction in grammar 
before 1775. This chapter demonstrates that Noah Webster's often- 
quoted affirmation that " English grammar was not generally taught 
in common schools " before the Revolution 67 has been misinterpreted. 
Webster was right in saying that few common schools gave instruc- 
tion in English grammar before 1775, but the inference usually drawn 
from his statement that grammar was not taught at all is misleading. 
The number of private schools which taught the subject increased 
rapidly after 1750. Webster evidently was acquainted with the school 
practices of the New England colonies, which are shown in this chap- 
ter apparently to have lagged behind the middle colonies, and some- 
what behind the southern, in bringing to the fore instruction in all 
secondary branches of English, especially grammar. 

In the New Jersey series the newspapers cited begin with 1704 and 
end with 1779. Not all schools which were giving instruction in gram- 
mar before the Revolution are here indicated. Colonial newspapers 

68 Much of the data from colonial newspapers on private schools cited in this section was 
made available through the courtesy of Prof. Marcus W. Jernegan, of the University of 
Chicago. His extracts have been supplemented from the series of excerpts from colonial 
newspapers relating to New Jersey, as published in the New Jersey Archives, and from 
sundry other sources, to which reference is made in the course of the discussion. How- 
ever, no pretense is made that all of the data extant in such sources has been used. 

« Am. J. of Ed., XXVI, 196. 



are preserved in fragmentary form at best. Moreover, the data relate 
almost exclusively to private schools, many of which may not have 
advertised ; they offer little or no bearing upon the curricula of free 
public schools of the eighteenth century. The writer has seen very 
little evidence that public schools were offering English grammar 
before 1775. 68 In all likelihood they were to some extent, but no proof 
to that effect has come to the writer's attention. No English grammar 
was offered in the public schools of Boston before 1T75. 69 

In footnotes are presented data from various colonies. Informa- 
tion is distributed as follows : Date of the school advertisement, name 
of the schoolmaster, extracts (quoted verbatim from the advertise- 
ments) indicating instruction in grammar and, finally, the reference 
to the newspaper in which the advertisement was published. It was 
customary for a successful schoolmaster, like Hugh Hughes, 1767, 
and Thomas Byerley, contemporary, both of New York, to advertise 
in various papers in succeeding years. With a few exceptions a 
schoolmaster's name appears but once in the lists below. In some 
cases, like that of David Dove, the same schoolmaster taught in sev- 
eral different schools in successive periods of service. 

One caution should be borne in mind. There is no positive evi- 
dence that many of the schools advertised actually convened. Fre- 
quently a schoolmaster " prepares to open a school if given sufficient 
encouragement," meaning if he secured enough pupils to make the 
project pay. Moreover, it is quite likely that, as with some schools 
to-day, the prospectus of a curriculum for advertising purposes was 
somewhat more pretentious than the actual school practices warranted. 

The schools here cited are, with very few exceptions, located in 
cities of importance, and schoolmasters in smaller places, in planta- 
tion schools, and in villages throughout each colony could not, or did 
not, advertise. Hence, schools of smaller communities may have been 
teaching grammar of which there is no record. This may be true, 
although a number of the schools cited in the list below were in small 
communities. Effort here is merely to cite available data upon which 
to base a reasonably sound inference as to when English grammar 
made its first appearances. Undoubtedly it was a new subject, pre- 
sented in very few textbooks, as no American texts in grammar were 
published in the colonies before Samuel Johnson, of New York, in 
1765, 70 and none of the grammars from England were reprinted in 
America until Dilworth's, in 1747. That few English grammars 
were imported before 1750 is likewise almost certain. 71 Now the 

• Except in free school in Maryland. See Chap. II, p. 30. 

69 See discussion of Joseph Ward's school, Chap. II, p. 34. 

70 See Chap. II, p. 35. 

71 See Chap. II, p. 33. 


newness of the subject, the abject ignorance of the village school- 
masters, and the general absence of textbooks 72 make it appear likely 
that English grammar did not generally make its way into the pub- 
lic schools until some time after it was taught in the more prosperous 
private schools of the cities. Upon this basis, then, coupled with the 
fact that private schools capable of undertaking grammar estab- 
lished themselves usually in cities, credence may be placed in the 
conclusions reached in the following discussion. • 

It may be pointed out also that scrupulous care has been taken to 
select from the advertisements of more than 500 schools only those 
in which it is reasonably certain that a deliberate attempt was made 
to " teach the English language grammatically." A large number of 
schools which may have taught grammar were rejected. 73 

Moreover, if the term " grammar " appears in the advertisement, 
with no certain indication that it signifies English, the assumption 
has been made that it means Latin grammar. Where English 
branches are announced as the core of the curriculum, with no spe- 
cific mention of grammar, they have also been rejected. 


The writer has seen only six references to New England schools 
which give positive evidence of teaching English grammar before 
1775. 74 It is surprising to find such meager evidence of instruction 

72 See Chap. II, p. 33. 

73 A typical rejected case is William Cheatarns school in Burlington, N. J., where, In 
176.3, he taught " Latin. French, English, Writing and Arithmetic." Maryland Gazette, 
July 11, 1763. If Cheatam had meant reading, writing, and spelling in the English part 
of his curriculum, he probably would have said so. Large numbers of advertisements use 
these terms for English branches. 

Reliable evidence that the term " English " in some advertisements, at least, included 
grammatical treatment is found in the fact that Franklin's Academy, in which it is cer- 
tain that grammatical instruction was given (see Chap. Ill, p. 44), announces only 
" Wherein youth shall be taught the Latin, Greek, English, French, and German 
languages." Pt. G., Dec. 11, 1750. 

Furthermore, schools and schoolmasters' advertising as " capable of teaching gram- 
mar," " giving instruction in grammar." " giving instruction in the English language," 
and the like, have been rejected. Md. G., Aug. 20, 1752 ; ibid., Dec. 13, 1764. 

74 1766, John Griffith, Boston, " Continues to teach English Grammar." Boston Gazette, 
Sept. 20, also Boston Post Boy, Sept. 22. 

1766, Richard Pateshall, Boston, " English with propriety according to the Rules of 
Grammar." B. G.. Sept. 15 ; ibid., Sept. 28. 

1769. Joseph Ward, Boston, " Understanding the English Grammar." Boston Chronicle, 
Apr. 20. " The last two years of my school life (between 1765 and 1770), nobody taught 
English grammar (in Boston) but Col. Ward, who was self-taught, and set up a school in 
Boston ; our class studied Lowth in college." Memorandum of an Eminent Clergyman, 
C. S. J. (1850), 311. 

1771, Theodore Foster, Providence, R. I., " English Grammar by Rule." Providence 
Gazette, June 8. 

1772, Joseph Ward, Boston, " English Grammar School is now Open." " Those who 
incline to learn the English Grammar." B. G., Oct. 25. 

1773, Wm. Payne, Boston, " English Grammar." Ibid., Nov. 14. 

Felt, writing in 1842 of education in Salem, Mass., gives a list of textbooks whose " use 
appears to have commenced here and in other towns of Massachusetts . . . about the 


in grammar in Boston. There may have been other schools teaching 
grammar during this period, but the internal evidence of the state- 
ments of Pateshall and Ward leads to the belief that few, if any, were 
doing so. 

Three successive advertisements show that Pateshall was trans- 
forming his school so as to provide a new curriculum in English. In 
1754 he taught " Writing, Arithmetic and the English and Latin 
Tongues." 75 This is a typical private grammar school of the period, 
according to the interpretation we have followed, and indicates that 
no grammar was taught. In 1761 Pateshall gives " Public Notice " 
of a school " teaching reading and spelling English with propriety, 
and the Rudiments of the Latin Tongue." 76 This indicates that his 
school was turning more extensively to English ; " with propriety " is 
a phrase commonly used in association with teaching grammar. And 
in 1766 Pateshall's school is announced " where he will teach Writing 
and Arithmetic, the Latin Tongue, Reading and Spelling English 
with Propriety, according to the Rules of Grammar." 7T Therefore 
during the 12 years covered by these advertisements (1754-1766) this 
private school was transformed by laying emphasis upon English. 
The third advertisement, in 1766, clearly indicates that the school 
offered instruction in grammar. 

Ward's announcements throw light on the absence of grammatical 
instruction in English. In 1769 he announces an — 

English Grammar School . . . where he teaches Reading, Spelling, Writing, 
Arithmetic, The English Grammar. . . . Those who go to the Free Schools and 
incline to learn the English Grammar he will teach from 11 to 12 o'clock. . . . 
The Understanding the English Grammar is so necessary for those who have not 
a liberal education. . . . Such a school is said by the Literati to be very much 
wanted in this town. 78 

The foregoing is one of the earliest uses of the name " English 
grammar school," and the rest of Ward's statement indicates that the 
term is used because of the emphasis on English grammar, the title 
being derived in an exactly analogous way to the term " Latin gram- 
mar school." Here, too, is evidence that the free schools of Boston did 
not include English grammar in their curricula and evidence, though 
somewhat less positive, that private schools did not generally teach 
the subject. Ward evidently does not think that Richard Pateshall 

particular years which accompany them. The reference of them- as to time and place is 
more vague than desired. But want of data . . . forbid it to be otherwise. Spelling 
books, Dilworth's 1750; English grammar, Salmon's, Lily's, 1761. British grammar, 
printed' in Boston 1784, Lowth's, Ash's, Webster's, 1785." Ann. of Salem, 385-6. 

This is the type of reference so vague as to be of no value for our purposes. The writer 
has seen no other reference to an English grammar by Salmon. Lily's was not an English 
grammar. This and many similar references are discarded as worthless. 

"Boston News Letter, Dec. 26, 1754. 

78 Ibid., May 14, 1761. 

"B. G., Sept. 15, 1766. 

T8 B. Chron., Apr. 20, 1769. 


(1766) was conducting a school of which the " Literati " approved. 
Private-school men appear to have often been skeptical of the pre- 
tensions of rival schoolmasters. 

The announcement of John Griffith, the first evidence available of 
the time when grammar was introduced in Boston, is highly sugges- 
tive of the conclusion we must reach. He affirms, in 1766, that he 
" continues to teach English Grammar." How long before that date 
he had carried out this part of his program is uncertain. However, 
from the discussion of successive advertisements of Pateshall and 
Ward, considered above, it is concluded that they began their work in 
grammar soon after 1766. 

The conclusion reached, then, is somewhat qualified. In New 
England a few private schools began to emphasize English grammar 
in their curricula about the year 1765, one decade before the Revolu- 
tion. John Griffith, Richard Pateshall, and Joseph Ward were lead- 
ers in this movement among the schoolmen of Boston. 


According to the evidence available upon the numerous attempts 
to teach declamation, oratory, and grammar, the middle colonies show 
a much more marked tendency to stress English than did New 
England. New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania seem to have 
been at least a decade in advance of their sister colonies to the north. 
The evidence of schools " teaching English Grammatically " in these 
three colonies includes 39. In New York at least 12 schools, the first 
somewhat doubtful, were teaching grammar before 1775. 79 

79 1751, Garrett Noel, New York, "Reading, writing, arithmetic, grammar.". New York 
Gazette revived in the Weekly Post Boy, Sept. 2. 

1753, John Lewis, New York, " Speaking, reading, spelling and writing English accord- 
ing to English Grammar." Ibid., June 4. 

1761, Elizabeth Wilcocks, New York, " With the Whole English Grammar." New 
York Mercury, Aug. 31. 

1761, W. Rudge, Newtown, " Writing, Arith., Grammar, Bookkeeping." Ibid., June 15. 

1763, Wm. Jones, New York, " English Language by Grammatical Rules." Ibid., Apr. 25. 

1763, Sam. Giles, New York, " Desire to Learn the English Grammar and write their 
Mother Tongue." N. Y. M. and W. P. B., Apr. 21. 

1766, , New York, " The English Grammar Rationally taught." Ibid., June 5. 

1771, Thomas Ulrich, New York, " English Language Grammatically." N. Y. G. and 
W. M., Dec. 31. 

1771, Hugh Hughes, New York, " English Language Grammatically." Ibid., Dec. 30. 

1773, Thomas Byeiiey, New York, " Scholars interested in the grammatical institutes." 
Ibid., Aug. 23. 

1774, John Cobb, New York, " English Grammar." N. Y. J. or Gen. Ad., June 1. 

1775, John Cobb, Flatbush, " Principles of English Grammar," N. Y. G. arid W. M., 
July 4. 

Kemp, speaking of English grammar in the charity schools of the city of New York, 
says : " Mr. Ball added English grammar to the program . . . when he succeeded Mr. 
Hildreth. ... It is the only instance of it to be found save the special instruction in it 
which Forster introduced for a while." Sup. Sch. in Col. N. Y., by S. P. G., 265. 
Hildreth retired in 1777. Ibid., 115. Forster was master in West Chester Parish from 
1717 to 1745. Ibid., 153. It it is true that the latter was giving special instruction in 
English grammar before 1745, he deserves to be classed as one of the very earliest in 


Noel's case is cited as doubtful because it does not specifically indi- 
cate instruction in grammar. The remainder of his announcement 
indicates an elementary program with no mention of Latin; this 
seems to suggest that the '' grammar " of his advertisement means 
English grammar. The first undoubted case is Lewis's school, opened 
in 1753 for " speaking, reading, spelling and writing English accord- 
ing to English Grammar." 80 


In the New .Jersey series between 1704 and 1750 there appear to be 
only six references to schools, all of which are advertisements for 
teachers. Three of these indicate that the subject matter the master 
is desired to teach is the elementary curriculum of the ordinary town 
school, namely, reading, writing, arithmetic, ciphering, spelling, and 
good behavior. References to 12 schools teaching grammar appear 
after 1850. 81 

Two schools, 1751 and 1753, while they do not specify English 
grammar, point strongly in that direction. Bartholemew Rowley, of 
Burlington, " Professes to teach the Latin and English Grammar." 82 
Probably this refers to a Latin grammar, with accidence explained in 
English, after the order of Lily's or Adam's grammar. 83 Neverthe- 
less, the very fact that Latin is so advertised indicates a tendency 
toward the grammar of the vernacular. 

In 1753 a lo.ttery for an " English and Grammar-school " is pro- 
moted in Trenton " for raising 225 pieces of eight toward building a 
house to accommodate an English and grammar-school and paying a 
master." 84 To be noted here is the slight distinction between an 
English curriculum and a grammar curriculum in the same school. 

80 N. Y. G. Rev. in W. P. B., June 4, 1753. 

81 1751, Bartholemew Rowley, Burlington, " Latin and English Grammar." Pa. G., 
Sept. 19 ; also Sept. 26. 

1753, , Trenton, " English and Grammar-school." Ibid., Apr. 26. 

1762, Cather Robert, Elizabeth Town, " English Tongue Taught as a Language." Pa. 
J., Apr. 1, also N. Y. M., Jan. 18. 

1763, S. Finley, Princeton, " English Language Grammatically." Ibid., Nov. 10. 

1764, John Reid, Trenton, " English Grammar, Reading, Grammatically." Pa. G., 
Sept. 13. 

1764, , Moores Town, "Wanted a schoolmaster to teach the English language 

grammatically." Ibid., Aug. 3. 

1764, Joseph Periam, Princetown, " English Language grammatically." Pa. J., May 31. 

1769, J. Witherspoon, Princeton, " Remarks on the grammar and spelling of the Eng- 
lish Tongue." Ibid., Mar. 2. 

1769, Princeton College, Princeton, " Scholars desiring admission should be well 
acquainted with Rending English with propriety, spelling the English language, and 
writing it without grammatical errors." N. Y. J. and W. M., May 1. 

1771, Grammar School, Queen's College. " Mr. Frederick Frelinghousen . . . teach 
the English Language grammatically." N. Y. J. or Gen. Ad., Oct. 24. 

1771, James Conn, Elizabeth Town, " Teach English Grammar." N. Y. G. or W. P. B., 
Oct. 21. 

1775, Newark Academy, Newark, " English Language." N. Y. G. and W. M., Mar. 27. 

82 Pa. G., Sept. 19, 1751 ; N. J. Arc, XIX, 99. 

83 See Appendix B. 

84 Pa. G., Apr. 26, 1753; N. J. Arc, XIX, 245. 


The step to an English-grammar school is easy and natural and 
throws light upon the shifting of emphasis from the Latin grammar 
to English grammar in the last quarter of the century. 

Not until 1762, when Robert Cather, of Elizabeth Town, East 
New Jersey, opened a boarding school, do we have an undoubted case 
in point. Cather speaks in no doubtful terms : 

As also, Boys to be instructed in the Beauty and Propriety of the English 
Tongue, which shall be taught as a Language; the best English Authors shall 
be read & explain'd; the Art Rhetoric or Oratory, shall be taught with Care 
and Exactness ; Specimens of the Boys' Proficiency therein shall be given every 
Quarter. . . . It's hoped the undertaking will meet with due encouragement 
especially from such who know the importance of a Proper English Education. 85 

Significant is the fact that S. Finley, president of the college in 
Princeton, is second on the list, announcing that in the English school 
connected with the college " is proposed to be taught the English 
Language grammatically, and that Boys, when found capable, be 
exercised in Compositions, as well as in pronouncing Orations pub- 
lically." 86 The teacher in this academy was Joseph Periam, a young 
graduate of the college, who, at the commencement of 1762, " to relax 
the attention of the audience," delivered " an English Oration on 
Politeness, which gave universal satisfaction for the justness of the 
sentiments, the elegance of the composition, and the propriety with 
which it was delivered." 8T 

Here is an eighteenth-century college, whose curriculum was very 
largely classical, announcing an English school with English gram- 
mar as its central study. The academy is "An Appendage " of New 
Jersey College, according to the announcement. This fact makes it 
unlikely that the academy was a private venture. We are led to con- 
clude that the president, for popularity in advertising, 88 stresses Eng- 
lish. The Philadelphia Academy, afterward the University of Penn- 
sylvania, a near rival, was doing so very successfully in this decade. 89 

The Moores Town advertisement, in 1764, throws an amusing light 
upon the relative place of the vernacular and the classics. The adver- 
tisement reads : " Wanted, a schoolmaster, to teach the English lan- 
guage grammatically, write a genteel hand, Arithmetic, and the useful 
branches of Mathematics " ; then it adds, u and if he could teach the 
Latin, it would be more agreeable to some of his Employers. . . . " 90 

86 Pa. J., Apr. 1, 1762 ; N. J. Arc, XXIV, 21 ; also N. Y. M., Jan. 18, 1762. 

This much resembles the plan of Franklin's English Academy, 1750, and is cited in a 
later chapter as evidence of the supreme influence of Franklin's experiment with the 
English curriculum. See Chap. Ill, p. 44. 

80 Ibid., Nov. 10, 1763, N. J. Arc, XXIV, 266. 

87 Pa. G., Oct. 21, 1762. Quoted, MacLean, Hist, of Col. of N. J., I, 154. 

88 In 1762 the profits from the grammar school connected with the college were added to 
President Finley's salary. This, and the presence of young Periam, may have been the 
cause of the new emphasis on English. MacLean, op. cit., 355. 

89 See Chap. Ill, p. 46. 

80 Pa. G., Aug. 2, 1764. 



Evidently a minority of this Moores Town committee still clung 
the Latin, but the majority, making courteous allusions to their col- 
leagues, insist upon the primary importance of the mother tongue, 
with English grammar as the basis. 

Differences of opinion in regard to the new subject did not trouble 
the school committees alone. That the school officers often reflected 
the conflicting opinions of school constituents is evidenced by resolu- 
tions of the Germantown (Pa.) Union (English) School, March 3, 
1764. Dove, formerly of Philadelphia Academy, was master. 

Whether the Mode of instruction generally should be taught Grammatically, 
attended with lectures. . . . The Board having deliberated . . . Resolved, That 
the instructions of the youth in the Languages Grammatically, and with Suitable 
lectures at the same time . . . will undoubtedly tend to the most effectual 
Advancement of the Knowledge of the Scholars. . . . But the Board is never- 
theless of the opinion, that every parent and guardian should have in his election 
to direct whether his child or ward shall be taught in the above manner, or in 
the usual mode taught in common schools. . . . Many parents and guardians 
may not incline to have their children or wards taught in any other manner 
than what has been hitherto practiced in this school. The . . . English Master 
. . . shall be obliged himself to hear each scholar three times a week, who is 
taught reading, writing and arithmetic, in the said common mode. 91 

The suggestion is that Dove's new " English Language Grammati- 
cally " methods were not entirely popular. This resolution is also 
indicative of what " the usual mode in the school " was. The school 
committee orders that the English master shall " hear " the scholar ; 
that is, hear him recite the lessons which he has memorized from the 

In many of these eighteenth-century communities with their highly 
emphasized democracy this dual struggle among school patrons may 
have taken place. In Moores Town part of the public clung tena- 
ciously to the Latin and the old curriculum ; in Germantown part of 
the school patrons fought innovations in methods of teaching. Thus 
did " the road their fathers trod " diverge from the path of progress. 
Against just such traditionalism, in practically every colony, did 
instruction in the mother tongue have to fight its way. 92 

n Travis, Germantown Academy, 24-25. 

M An advertisement of an Elizabeth Town school, in 1769, shows that a writing master 
used what is almost the modern method of teaching composition. To be sure, the emphasis 
is still on writing and spelling. However, the original compositions of the upper class 
are to be reviewed and errors pointed out. In many of the advertisements cited in this 
thesis some form of composition is added to the teaching of grammar. 

The teacher is the same Joseph Periam whom we saw above as the first teacher in the 
English school of Princeton college. He is now resigning to take this school. 

"As this gentleman is skilled in penmanship, a particular attention will be paid, if 
desired by the parents . . . pupils according to their capacities. . . . Some in writing 
the usual copies ; qthers in transcribing . . . from approved authors, either letters to 
acquire a taste for the epistolary style or select pieces to be committed to memory, which 
they will be taught to pronounce with grace and propriety. Those of riper judgments 
will be required to write their own thoughts in the form of letters, descriptions, &c. These 
transcripts and letters will be carefully reviewed and errors pointed out in such a manner 
as will be most likely to make them accurate in writing and spelling." N. Y. G. and 
W. M., July 24, 1769 ; N. J. Arc, XXVI, 474. It will be noted that Franklin also insists 
upon careful criticism of the pupils by the English master. See Chap. Ill, p. 44. 



Pennsylvania appears to stand ahead of all her sister colonies in 
championing thorough instruction in the mother tongue. The reasons 
for this, under Franklin's leadership, are discussed elsewhere. 93 In 
1743, at least 20 years earlier than any record found of English gram- 
mar in Massachusetts and 10 years before any in New Jersey, one 
Charles Fortesque announced : 

To be taught by Charles Fortesque, late Free-School Master of Chester, at 
his home, in the alley commonly called Mr. Taylor; the latin Tongue, English 
in a grammatical manner, navigation, surveying, mensuration, geography," etc. 94 

This school of Fortesque's, with one other, 95 are the only undoubted 
cases the writer has seen of attempts formally to teach English gram- 
mar in America before 1750. 

Next on the list is Franklin's English Academy, Philadelphia. 98 
For reasons elaborated in the succeeding chapter the evidence seems 
to show that Franklin's Academy, because of its prominence, may be 
said to mark the beginning of formal instruction in English grammar 
in American schools. Due appreciation of the priority of Waterland 
and Fortesque in obscure schools is here acknowledged. 

Of great significance is the fact that at least eight schools in Phila- 
delphia were teaching, or had been teaching, grammar before 1760, 97 
and 13 schools before 1766, when we are positive that Griffith and 
Pateshall were teaching in Boston. Philadelphia had at least 12 

• 3 See Chap. Ill, p. 43. 
M Pa. G., Dec. I, 1743. 

•» William Waterland, Wassamacaw, S. C, 1734, see p. 31. 
M Pa. G., Dec. 2, 1750, quoted in Montgomery, Hist, of TJ. of P., 139. 
• T 1743, Charles Fortesque, Philadelphia, " English in a Grammatical Manner." Pa. G., 
Dec. 1. 

1750, Franklin Academy, Philadelphia, " English Language." Ibid., Dec. 2. 

1751, Gabriel Nesman, Philadelphia, " English by daily practice, after the choicest and 
correct grammars." Ibid., Jan. 1. 

1751, David Dove, Philadelphia, " English Grammar." Ibid., Aug. 29. 

1754, John Jones, Philadelphia, " English as a Language." Ibid., Oct. 24. 

1755, Robert Coe, Philadelphia, " Teaches reading grammatically." Ibid., Apr. 24. 

1758, Messrs. Dove and Riley, Philadelphia. " English Language, according to the most 
exact Rules of Grammar." Ibid., Jan. 12. 

1759, Dove and Williams, Philadelphia, " Grammatical knowledge of their mother tongue 
as it is laid down in Greenwoods English Grammar." Ibid., Aug. 9. 

1761, Joseph Garner, Philadelphia, " English Grammatically, according to the most 
modern and familiar Method." Ibid., July 3. 

1764, Subscriber, Philadelphia, " the Reading, Speaking, etc., will be taught gram- 
matically." Ibid., Sept. 1. 

1761, David Dove, Germantown, " English as a Language." Ibid., Nov. 19. 

1765, Alexander Power, Philadelphia, " English Grammatically." Ibid., June 13. 

1766, John Downey, Philadelphia, " English Tongue grammatically." Ibid., June 5. 

1767, Mary M'Allister, Philadelphia, " English Language with proper Accent and 
Emphasis." Ibid., June 4. 

1767, Mr. Dove, Philadelphia, " Own Language according to the exact Rules of gram- 
mar." Ibid., Oct. 29. 

1769, Henry Moore, Potts Town, " English Language grammatically." Ibid., Sept. 28. 
1767, Lazarus Pine, Philadelphia, " English Language Grammatically." Ibid., Jan. 29. 
1772, John Hefferman, Philadelphia, " Grammatical English." Ibid., Sept. 14. 


schools teaching grammar before the first authentic case we have seen 
in Massachusetts and 11 before the first case found in New Jersey. In 
comparison with the South we shall see that Pennsylvania schools, 
with two exceptions, appear to antedate them in adding grammar. 
These exceptions are William Waterland's school in Wassamacaw, 
S. C, and the doubtful instance of William Gough's plantation school 
in the same colony. These exceptions indicate that there were in the 
southern colonies, and probably in all, schools teaching grammar 
which are not here recorded. 


In Maryland the first record we have seen — the announcement of 
William Clajon 98 — has considerable interest. Clajon was a French- 
man who had immigrated in 1754 and under the patronage of a 
prominent clergyman in Annapolis began teaching French, Latin, 
and English in that year." He paid little attention to English gram- 
mar. At least he did not at first advertise it. But three years later, 
when he may be supposed to have become fairly well established in his 
profession, he announces: 

The subscriber having by great application acquired a reasonable knowledge 
of the English Grammar, he proposes to teach the same at the Free School of 
Annapolis. Those Parents, who can not afford their children spending several 
years in the Learning of Greek and Latin, may, by this proposal, procure to 
them the only benefit commonly expected from these languages, THE LEARN- 
ING OF THEIR OWN. Besides their daughters can as easily enjoy the same 
advantage. 100 

Can it be that Clajon had read the signs of the times as pointing to 
an English education and had during his three years' residence in 
America prepared himself to teach the English grammar? 1 At any 
rate he voices the argument which, after Franklin's proposals for an 
English school, seems to have seized firm hold upon an increasing pro- 
portion of the constituency of the schools — Latin of no practical 
benefit ; English a suitable substitute. 2 

98 1757, William Clajon, Annapolis, " Knowledge of English Grammar. . . . The Learn- 
ing of their Own." Md. G., Apr. 28. 

1764, Jacob Giles, Mount Pleasant, " The English Language Grammatically." Ibid., 
July 19. 

1765, Joseph Condon, Cecil County Free School, " English by Good Methods and Gram- 
matically." Pa. G., Mar. 14. 

1769, Somerset Academy, Somerset County, " Rudiments of English Grammar." Va. G., 
Feb. 23. 

1772, Daniel Melville, Annapolis, " Teacher of a Practical English Grammar." Md. G., 
Dec. 17. 

89 Md. G., Nov. 4, 1754. 

100 Md. G., Apr. 28, 1757. 

1 Col. Joseph Ward, one of the first to teach grammar and geography in Boston, was 
" self-taught." Memorandum of an eminent clergyman, Am. J. of Ed., 13, 746. 

3 See Chap. JJI, p. 56. 



To Virginia credit must be given for the first textbook in English 
grammar written by an American. Hugh Jones, professor of mathe- 
matics in William and Mary College, wrote "A Short English Gram- 
mar," published in England in 1T24. 3 It seems reasonable to believe 
that while Jones was teaching in William and Mary some attention 
to the subject may have been paid, though direct evidence is lacking. 
But this book was published, so far as we have been able to discover, 
10 years before any record of a school or schoolmaster outlining a 
program which included grammar. Simple justice therefore awards 
Jones, of Virginia, the place of honor in point of time. 


To South Carolina belongs the distinction of having the first school 
of which w T e have seen any record as teaching English grammatically. 4 
In 1734— 

William Waterland of Wassamacaw School . . . gives notice that any Gen- 
tleman Planter or others, who want to send their Children to School, may be 
provided with good conveniency for boarding. . . . Writing and Arithmetick in 
all its most useful Parts, and the Rudiments of Grammar are taught, but more 
particularly English, of which great care is taken, and by such methods as few 
Masters care to take the Trouble of, being taught Grammatically. 5 

Waterland's school antedates Franklin's in Philadelphia by 16 years. 
Another school, in 1742 — that of William Gough — ought to be classed 
as doubtful. 

He is now settled entirely at the Plantation of Mr. James Taylor, and con- 
tinues to teach the several and most useful Branches of Learning (in the Eng- 
lish Tongue) according to the London Method, whereby youth may be qualified 
for Business by Land or Sea.' 

8 A full description in Meriwether, Colonial Curriculum, 151-3. 

4 1734, William Waterland, Wassamacaw, " English being taught grammatically." South 
Carolina Gazette, Nov. 16. 

1742, William Gough, Plantation School, " Most useful branches of the Mother Tongue.** 
Ibid., Feb. 13. 

1755, Beresford County, " Wanted, a Master to teach the English Language." Ibid., 
Nov. 6. 

1766, John Emmet, Charlestown, " With the English Grammar, to explain, parse, and 
sketch the English Tongue." Ibid., Sept. 28. 

« 1766, Andrew D'Ellicent, Charlestown, " English Language Grammatically." Ibid., 
May 20. 

1767. William Johnson, Charlestown, " Principles of English Grammar." Ibid., June 15. 
1769, Alexander Alexander, Charlestown, " Together with the leading English Gram- 
mar." Ibid., Sept. 7. 

1769, William Watson, Charlestown, " Taught to write grammatically." Ibid., June 29. 

1770, James Oliver, Charlestown, " English Grammar." Ibid., Oct. 30. 

1770, Elizabeth Duneau, Charlestown, " Grammatically the English Language." Ibid., 
May 17. 

1771, William Walton, Charlestown, " English Language grammatically." Ibid., Oct. 20. 

1772, James Thompson, Charlestown, "Also grammatical use of their own." Ibid., 
Dec. 10. 

• S. C. G., Nov. 16, 1734. 

• Ibid., Feb. 13, 1742. 



One especially clear-cut statement — that of William Johnson, 
Charlestown, 1767 — announces : 

As soon as they begin to read and write, he proposes to initiate them into the 
principles of English Grammar, in a manner much more easy than that which 
is generally practiced, and without much interfering with the work of the 
school. 7 

The obvious interpretation is that grammar is frequently taught in 
a difficult manner, which interferes with the work of the school. But 
the first part of Johnson's statement is evidently not intended to con- 
vey that impression. He prefaces it with these remarks : 

It is a common, but too well grounded a complaint that a grammatical study 
of our own language seldom makes any part of the ordinary method of instruct- 
ing youth in our school. 8 

Johnson's first statement, as interpreted in the foregoing, would be 
grossly inconsistent with the plain assertion of his prefatory remarks. 
In short, Johnson's testimony bears out the conclusion reached in this 
section, that grammatical instruction in English before 1750 was^ 
taught only in an occasional school. 


We have seen'recorded two schools in Georgia as teaching grammar 
before 1775. 9 


A number of private schools gave instruction in English grammar 
before the Revolution. The three-score schools which we have named 
include not more than one- tenth of the advertisements ♦ of schools 
available for examination; about one private school in 10 for the 
entire 50 years (1725-1775) seems to have been turning in the direc- 
tion of grammar. However, the showing for the subject is better than 
at first appears, for the advertisements cover many schools w T hich 
would not have been found teaching grammar even a half century 
later, when English grammar had come into its own in the curriculum. 
Only an occasional private school of the secondary grade taught Eng- 
lish grammar in the American colonies between 1750 and 1775. 

There is evidence of only two schools — Waterland's in South Caro- 
lina in 1734 and Fortesque's in Philadelphia in 1743 — which were 
without question teaching the subject before 1750. No further infor- 
mation is available concerning the masters of these schools. This 
excludes the possibility that, under the influence of Hugh Jones, 

T Ibid., June 15, 1767. 
« Ibid. 

• 1763, John Portrees, Savannah, " Writing and English Grammar." Ga. G., June 30. 
1774, Stephen Biddurph, Savannah, " Latin, English, French, and Celtic Languages 
grammatically." Ibid., Mar. 2. 


who wrote a grammar in 1724, after he had severed his relations with 
William and Mary, some attention may have been paid to grammatical 
instruction in Virginia. 

The decade 1750-1760 in the middle colonies marks for America 
the serious beginnings of instruction in English grammar. The north- 
ern and southern colonies seem to have commenced one to two decades 
later. After 1750 the middle colonies, under the leadership of Ben- 
jamin Franklin in Pennsylvania, began to emphasize the English 
curriculum, with grammar as the basic study. It received steadily 
increasing attention from persons starting private schools. There- 
fore the year 1750 is taken as the most fitting date to mark the begin- 
ning of formal English-grammar teaching in America, especially as 
it coincides exactly with the establishment of Franklin's English 
School, itself the progenitor of a long line of schools of the middle 
colonies which based vernacular instruction upon English grammar. 


The first English grammar by an American of which the writer 
has learned was written in 1724 by Hugh Jones, professor of mathe- 
matics in William and Mary College. 11 This book was published in 
London. So far as is known only one copy is extant, that in the 
British Museum. No indication concerning its use has come to light. 

The earliest instruction in English grammar in the colonies was 
conducted either without textbooks or with books imported from 
England. "Wickersham, speaking for Pennsylvania, represents a con- 
dition which was prevalent in regard to the importations of grammars : 

Whether any more than a few straggling copies of the old English grammars 
. . . ever found their way from England to Pennsylvania is unknown; several 
of them, however, were reprinted in Philadelphia . . . and may have been used 
to some extent, but the first works generally taught in the schools were the 
Philadelphia editions of Webster, Harrison, Murray, and Comly, mainly the last 
two. 12 

Evidence is available that at least 12 grammatical texts of England 
were imported or reprinted in America before 1784. 13 Of these, 
Thomas Dilworth's "A New Guide to the English Tongue," London, 
1740, appears to have been the most widely used. Dilworth's book 
was primarily a speller, and probably introduced as such; but it con- 
tained also a " Brief but Comprehensive English Grammar " and a 

10 1784 is the date of Noah Webster's Grammar, Part II of his Grammatical Institutes of 
the English Languages, usually considered the first grammar by an American author. 

11 Full description in Meriwether, Colonial Curriculum, 151-3. 

12 Wickersham, Hist, of Ed. In Pa., 202. 

13 Appendix A, p. 155. 

60258°— 22 3 


reader. Its popularity was widespread. 14 Another book, published 
first in England three decades earlier than Dilworth's, was also 
imported to a limited extent. This was James Greenwood's "An Essay 
Towards a Practical English Grammar," London, 1711. Barnard 
gives the date of the edition probably best known in the 
colonies as 1753. 15 The book of James Harris — " Hermes, or a 
Philosophical Inquiry Concerning Grammar," London, 1751, which 
Wickersham says was reprinted in Philadelphia 16 and reached its 
seventh edition in 1825 17 — was influential in shaping grammars used 
in America. A. Fisher's " Practical New Grammar," London, 1763, 
reached its twenty-eighth edition in America by 1795. 18 Goold Brown 
used a " New Edition, Enlarged, Improved, and Corrected," 1800. 19 

One of the most popular grammars imported and printed here was 
" The British Grammar," anonymous, London, 1760. An early stu- 
dent of the history of grammar in America asserts that it was prob- 
ably the first English grammar reprinted on this side of the Atlantic. 20 
This is an error. Lowth was reprinted in 1775 ; 21 the first reprint of 
Dilworth's was 1747, 22 while " The British Grammar " was first 
reprinted in Boston, 1784. 23 

If Dilworth's " New Guide " was the most extensively used, it was 
because the book was primarily a speller, grammar, and reader com- 
bined. The text, considered strictly as a grammar, of most extensive 
use and influence in the colonies was Lowth 's "A Short Introduction 
to English Grammar," London, 1758. Harvard used Lowth as early 
as 1774 24 and as late as 1841. 25 Meanwhile other colleges introduced 
it into their curricula. 26 Wells says that Lowth was " first published 
anonymously . . . soon came into general notice, and has probably 
exerted more influence than any other treatise in forming the char- 
acter of the numerous grammars that have since been used as school 
books, in Great Britain and the United States." Lowth's greatest 

14 The Grst American reprint seems to have been the edition of Franklin, in Philadelphia. 
3 747. Evans, Am. Bibl., 3, 76. Evans omitted the 1747 edition from his second volume. 
He lists f*C different American editions between 1747 and 1792. Ten thousand copies 
printed in one edition seems to have been a popular number. Ibid., 4, 314 and 7, 111. 

The Lancaster, Pa., edition of 1778 omitted the grammar until (as the publication said) 
" peace and commerce shall again smile on us, and when in spite of Britain and a certain 
one named Beelzebub, we shall have paper and books of every kind in abundance." Wick 
ersham, op. cit., 198. 

"Am. J. of Ed., XIII, 639. 

16 Wickersham, op. cit., 202. 

"C. S. J., 3, 209. 

18 Barnard, op. cit, 13, 633. 

10 Brown, Gram, of Gram., XV. 

20 Wallis (W. B. Fowle), C. S. J., 12, 20. 

21 Evans, op. cit., 5, 150. 

22 Ibid., 3, 76 footnote. 

23 Ibid., 6, 274. 

24 C. S. J., 11 (1849), 257. 

25 Ibid., 3 (1841), 230. 

26 Discussion in the following section. 


significance is that most of his rules have been copied verbatim by 
Lindley Murray and again from him by many compilers of lesser 
note. 27 Webster says that " Wallis and Lowth are the two ablest 
writers on English Grammar." 28 Lowth enjoyed numerous American 
reprints. 29 

One other important book was Ash's " Grammatical Institutes," 
first published in London, 1763, and enjoying four other editions there 
before 1795. 30 Its subtitle was "An Easy Introduction to Dr. 
Lowth's English Grammar " and was based on Lowth 's seventh Lon- 
don edition. 31 Ash was reprinted and sold in New York in 1774 by 
High Gain. 32 

In addition to the books named, there were numerous other English 
publications which contained grammars, not strictly textbooks, cir- 
culating in America before 1784. In this list are McTurner's " Spell- 
ing Book and English Grammar," Fenning's Dictionary, Buchanan's 
Dictionary, Johnson's Dictionary, all of which contained brief gram- 
mars. In the advertisements of colonial booksellers we see indications 
that other grammars of which we have found no definite trace made 
their way from England. Numerous advertisements announce 
" Spelling Books by the dozen," " English Grammars," etc. 33 This 
is indicative of the conclusion that must be reached: Before gram- 
mars were widely printed in America the circulation of popular books 
imported was quite common. Keprints began to appear frequently 
after 1747. 

Finally, more interesting, if not so significant, is the fact that 
several other Americans besides Hugh Jones antedated Noah Webster 
in publishing English grammars. In 1765 Samuel Johnson, the first 
president of King's College, published in New York " The First Easy 
Rudiments of Grammar, applied to the English Tongue. By one 
who is extremely desirous to promote good literature in America, and 
especially a right English education. For the use of Schools." 34 
This volume of 36 pages appears to have been the first grammar pre- 
pared by an American and published in America. It was printed by 

17 Wells, C. S. J., 3, 230. » Ibid. 

29 First reprint, 1775, Philadelphia, Evans, op. cit., 5, 150. 

80 Brown, Gram, of Gram., XII. 

81 Evans, op. cit., 5, 5. 
3 * Ibid. 

83 Pa. G., Jan. 6, 1742; S. C. G., Oct. 3, 1748; B. N. L., Sept. 5, 1750, etc. 

34 Evans, op. cit., 4, 18. 

Johnson wrote his English grammar for use in the preliminary education of his two 
grandsons. He prepared also a Hebrew grammar to go side by side with his English 
grammar, the structure of the two languages bearing in his view a close resemblance. He 
said : "I am still pursuing the same design of promoting the study of the Hebrew Scrip- 
tures . . . and I think of no better project than to get the grammar of it studied with a 
grammar of our own excellent language as the best introduction to what is called a liberal 
education. . . . Beardsley, Life and Correspondence of Samuel Johnson. 306-7. 

Beardsley affirms that Johnson's book was printed by W. Paden, London, in 1767, and 
four years afterwards a second edition was published by the same printer. Ibid., 307, 


J. Holt, near Exchange, in Broad Street, New York. 35 Johnson was 
followed, in 1773, by Thomas Byerley, also a schoolmaster of New 
York, who published "A Plain and Easy Introduction to English 
Grammar." 36 Byerley has an elaborate description of the methods 
used in his school, a discussion of which appears in a later chapter. 37 

In 1779 Abel Curtis, of Dartmouth College, published "A Compend 
of English Grammar: Being an Attempt to point out the Funda- 
mental Principles of the English Language." 38 

We have, then, the undoubted cases of Jones, 1724 ; Johnson, 1765 ; 
Byerley, 1773 ; and Curtis, 1779, to cite as American writers publishing 
grammars before Noah Webster in 1784. We conclude that Hugh 
Jones was the first American author to write a textbook in English 
grammar; that Samuel Johnson was the first to write a grammar 
published in America ; that the books of these two men, together with 
those of Byerley and Curtis, precede Webster's book in point of time. 
The latter was, then, the author of at least the fifth, not the first, Eng- 
lish grammar by an American. To be sure, the writer has seen no evi- 
dence that any of the earlier books were widely used in the schools or 
were influential in directing the new tendency in America to stress 
grammatical instruction. In one sense Webster retains the place 
usually assigned him as the first American grammarian. He yields to 
the others only in the matter of chronological priority. 



When King's College was founded, President Samuel Johnson, a 
Yale graduate, made this significant announcement : " It is the fur- 
ther Design of this college, to instruct and perfect the Youth in the 
Learned Languages, and in the arts of reasoning exactly, of ivriting 
correctly, and speaking eloquently." 39 This was stated in the first 
public prospectus of the college work. 40 To Johnson 41 has been 
assigned the honor of being the first American author of a textbook in 
English grammar published on this side of the Atlantic. His book 
was entitled "An English Grammar. The First Easy Rudiments of 
Grammar applied to the English Tongue. By one who is extremely 
desirous to promote good literature in America, and especially a Right 
English Education. For the use of Schools." 42 This book was pub- 
lished in 1765, more than a decade after he became president of King's 

85 Ibid. 

86 Evans, op. cit., 4, 353. 
37 See Chap. V, p. 129. 

88 Printed by Spooner, Dresden (Dartmouth College), Evans, 6, 10. 

88 Pine, Columbia Col. Charters and Acts, 70. 

40 N. Y. G. or W. P. B., July 3, 1754. 

«■ See Chap. II, p. 35. 

42 Evans, Am. Bibl., 4, 18, 


College. Obviously the book was not of college grade. His early 
authorship is cited here to indicate the genesis of the Columbia plan 
of education promulgated by his son, William Samuel Johnson, 
president of Columbia in 1785. 

In this plan emphasis was laid upon English that was quite in 
keeping with the ideal set forth at the founding by the father and 
with the earlier interests of the son. The plan has several features 
which, taken all in all, make it an innovation in college curricula. We 
concern ourselves here only with the striking emphasis on instruction 
in the vernacular. 43 

A few years later, 1792, a pamphlet " Present State of Learning in 
Columbia College " shows that the English part of the 1785 program 
was thoroughly carried out. 44 In fine, the King's College and 
Columbia curricula show a steady growth in popularity of instruction 
in the mother tongue. This is in startling contrast to the " starving," 
as Franklin called it, of English in the academy in which the Uni- 
versity of Pennsylvania had its beginnings. 45 

The experience of both Pennsylvania and Harvard shows that, as 
in the case of Columbia, the first impetus in colleges toward instruc- 
tion in the mother tongue came through the desire for better elocution 
and oratory. In Harvard, disputations, heretofore carried on in 
Latin, after the middle of the eighteenth century came to be given 
in the vernacular. President Quincy, after saying that for nearly a 

"The Plan of Education, 1785 : 

Freshman Class. English Grammar, together with the art of reading and speaking Eng- 
lish with propriety and elegance. Once a week . . . translation out of Latin into English ; 
. . . this to be considered as English rather than a Latin exercise. 

Sophomore Class. Once a week deliver to the President an English composition upon a 
subject to be assigned. 

Junior Class. Once a week, to the President, an English or Latin composition, upon a 
subject to be assigned, which compositions are expected to be longer and more correct as 
the students advance. 

Senior Class. To deliver once a week, an English or Latin Composition to the President 
upon a subject of their own- choosing. 

The written exercises of each class are to be subscribed with the author's name, and 
after having undergone the President's criticism are to be filed and produced at the 
monthly visitations for the inspection of the Regents and Professors. So many of each 
of the three senior classes as will bring it to each student's turn in a month are once a 
week to repeat in the Hall . . . some proper piece of English or Latin, which the President 
is to direct, and which, at the monthly visitation, may be such of their weekly exercises as 
the President may think have most merit. 

Plan cited in full, Snow, Col. Cur. in U. S., 93-6. 

** " The President, William Samuel Johnson, LLD., is Lecturing in Rhetoric and Belles 
Lettres, and instructs the students in the Grammar and proper pronunciation of the Eng- 
lish Language, on the plan of Webster's and Lowth's Grammars, and Sheridan's Rhetorical 
Grammar. In Rhetoric, on the plan of Holme's and Stirling's Rhetoric ... a complete 
course of instruction in . . . the English Language in particular ; in the art of writing and 
speaking it with propriety, elegance and force." 

" Each student is obliged, every Saturday, to deliver him (President Johnson) a com- 
position, in which he corrects the errors either in orthography, grammar, style or senti- 
ment, and makes the necessary observations on them when he returns the composition to 
the writers." Ibid., 98-102. 

« Smyth, Life and Writings, B. Franklin, X, 16. See Chap. Ill, p. 48. 


century (1650-1750) the Harvard curriculum had resisted innova 
tions, points out that in 1754 the overseers raised a committee "to 
project some new method to promote oratory." The result was a sys- 
tem of disputations in English, apparently a radical innovation. 46 
But it was not until 1766 that a committee of the board proposes there 
should be a " distinct Tutor in elocution, composition in English, 
Khetoric, and other parts of Belles Lettres." 47 

About the time that this new turn toward vernacular instruction 
was coming in Harvard (1754-1766) the University of Pennsylvania 
was being started in the Academy and Charity School of Philadelphia 
(1750-1756). Chapter III of this study is devoted to an examination 
of the character of this school and its influence in spreading vernacular 
education in secondary schools. The point to be anticipated here from 
that discussion is that good speaking and good writing in English 
were the primary motives lying back of the English program, with 
grammar as the central study. 48 

That Princeton was the first college to require grammar as an 
entrance requirement, in 1819, is the statement of Broome. 49 Murray, 
in a study of the first-mentioned texts in the College of New Jersey 
(Princeton), based upon catalogues of the institution, finds Lowth's 
Grammar first in 1793, and adds that not until 1840 does grammar 
appear in the catalogues as an admission requirement. 50 The state- 
ments of Broome and Murray do not tally by 21 years ; the difference is 
entirely consistent with the extreme difficulty of assigning definite 
dates for the first appearance of any subject. It is not at all certain 
that statutory provisions indicate the earliest date. As a matter of 
fact, both Broome and Murray are incorrect in assigning to Princeton 
the first admission requirements in grammar. 51 

If it were true that Princeton was the first, that fact would be con- 
sistent with others which can be positively stated. That the year 
assigned for grammar should be so late is, however, a matter of some 
wonder. From the year 1763 forward the College of New Jersey was 
intimately associated with a preparatory school called by President 
Finley " an Appendage " of the college. Announcement of the acad- 
emy appeared in 1763. 52 In 1764 the school was opened. 

"Quincy, Hist. Har. Univ., 1840, II, 124-5. 

« Ibid., 498, Resolutions in full. 

48 See Chap. Ill, p. 43. 

48 Broome gives the dates at which various new subjects at the beginning of the nine- 
teenth century were definitely placed in the college entrance requirements as follows : Up 
to 1800 the requirements were Latin, Greek, and arithmetic. Geography was added in 
1807 ; English grammar, 1819 ; algebra, 1820 ; geometry 1844 ; ancient history, 1847. 
Broome affirms that all of these were first required by Harvard, except English grammar, 
in which Princeton took the lead, and adds that the ambiguous term " grammar " appears 
in the Williams College catalogue for 1795. A Hist, and Crit. discussion of Col. Adm. 
Req., Columbia Univ. Cont, XI, 30-62. 

■ Murray, Hist, of Ed. in N. J., 57, Murray's statement is " South English Grammar." 
61 See discussion (p. 40) of the requirements of the University of North Carolina. 

■ Pa. J., Nov. 10, 1768 ; N. J. Arc, XXIV, 266. 


The Publick is hereby notified, that as soon as a competent Number of 
Scholars, offer themselves, an English School will be opened, under the Inspec- 
tion of the President of the New-Jersey College, as an Appendage to the same : 
in which is proposed to be taught the English Language grammatically, and 
that the Boys, when found capable, be exercised in Compositions, as well as in 
pronouncing Orations publickly. 63 

In 1769 another extremely suggestive advertisement of Princeton 
appears. President Witherspoon not only advertises that the college 
course gives " Remarks in the Grammar and spelling of the English 
Tongue " 54 but he also adds, speaking of candidates for admission, 
u Scholars should also be well acquainted with . . . spelling in Eng- 
lish Language and writing it without grammatical errors." 55 While, 
of course, this is not a definite entrance requirement, with examina- 
tion, it is an indication that the president of Princeton as early as 1769 
was pointing the way to such a requirement. Parenthetically it may 
be remarked that Witherspoon states almost exactly the proper test 
of grammatical accuracy, the test to which colleges did not officially 
arrive until one hundred years later, when, in 1873, Harvard's new 
admission requirements were formulated. For all the intervening 
time the entrance test consisted of examinations in formal English 
grammar, which, for a large part of that century, meant the slavish 
repetition of pages and pages of rules. 56 The point of present inter- 
est, however, is that in this statement of President Witherspoon, in 
1769, we see in embryo, at least, the college-entrance requirement of 
1819 ; indeed, that of the present-day requirements. Princeton, like 
Columbia and Pennsylvania, had been in touch with English as a 
language study for nearly 25 years before the Revolution. 

The diary of Solomon Droune, of the class of 1773 in Rhode Island 
College (Brown), testifies that he began the study of English gram- 
mar in 1771 : " Commenced Hammond's Algebra and British Gram- 
mar in December," B7 his sophomore year. The inference is strong 
that his class was studying " The British Grammar," but, unfor- 
tunately, we have discovered no corroborating testimony. The college 
laws of 1783 show that in the sophomore year were studied Lowth's 
Vernacular Grammar, Rhetoric, Ward's Oratory, and Sheridan's Lec- 
tures on Elocution, 58 and an extract from a letter of the president the 
following year advises a Mr. Wood, if he desires to enter the sopho- 
more class, " to study with great attention Lowth's English Grammar, 

» Ibid., May 31, 1764 ; N. J. Arc, XXIV, 370. 

A grammar school " as a nursery for the college " had been estaoilshed under Presi- 
dent Burr, but not until 1764 was " it judged proper that an English school should be also 
established for the sole intention of teaching young lads to write well, to cipher, and to 
pronounce and read the English tongue with accuracy and precision." Order of trustees, 
quoted, McLean, op. cit, 529. 

•* Pa. J., Mar. 2, 1769. 

w N. Y. J. or W. M., May 1, 1769. 

- See Chap. V. 

,T Quoted by Bronson. Hist. Brown Univ., 102. 

" Law§ in full, Ibid. 508-18. 


& Sterling's, or Turner's Rhetoric as preparatory to Ward's Oratory 
& accustom himself to compose in English." 59 

In the charter of Queen's College (which became Rutgers in 1823), 
first drafted by Dutch Reformed ministers in 1766 and finally granted 
in 1770, we find positive indications of the trend of the time toward 
grammatical instruction in English. It is especially significant as 
coming from a body of men who might have been supposed to favor 
a language other than English. The charter provides — 

There shall always be, residing at or near the college, at least one professor, 
or teacher well versed in the English language, elected . . . from time to time, 
and at all times hereafter grammatically to instruct the students of the said 
college in the knowledge of the English language; . . . provided also that all 
records shall be in the English language and no other : 60 

The grammar school of Queen's, in the first announcement in 1771, 
advertised that " Mr. Frederick Frelinghousen . . . teaches the Eng- 
lish Language grammatically." 61 

In all the preceding discussion there is one State which has not 
been mentioned — North Carolina. In 1794 the University of North 
Carolina was opened with a program of English studies very far in 
advance of any college in the country before 1800. 62 In 1794 the 
charges for tuition were as follows: 

For Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, Book-keeping, $8.00 per annum. For Latin, 
Greek, French, English Grammar, Geography, History and Belles Lettres, $12.50 
per annum. . . . 

Here is an institution starting up in a sparsely settled and largely 
unlettered frontier district. As the historian says, half of those who 
presented themselves were unprepared for college classes. 63 There- 
fore after the first year the institution was divided into the prepara- 
tory school and the university proper. 

In 1795, according to the statutes, the course of study in the prepara- 
tory school was as follows : 

(a) The English Language, to be taught grammatically on the basis of 
Webster's and South's Grammar. 64 (&) Writing in a neat and correct manner, 
(c) Arithmetic, with the four first rules, with the Rule of Three, (d) Reading 
and Pronouncing select passages from the Purest English authors, (e) Copying 
in a fair and correct manner select pages from the purest English authors. (/) 
The English Language shall be regularly continued, it being considered the 
primary object, and the other languages but auxiliaries. Any language except 
English may be omitted at the request of the Parents. 

Under the professorships in the university, English was continued. 
" Khetoric on the plan of Sheridan, . . . The English Language, 
Extracts in Prose and Verse. Scott's Collections." 

59 Ibid., 103. 

60 Clews, op. cit, 343. 

61 N. Y. J. or G. A., Oct. 24, 1771. 

M Battle. History of the Univ. of N. C, Vol. I, 50 et seq. 

88 Ibid., 65. «* Means Lowth's Grammar. 


, Here is a college which in 1795 dares to proclaim that English is 
" the primary object," that " other languages are auxiliaries," and that 
" any language, except English, may be omitted." The college did 
not grant the A. B. degree, however, except for Latin and Greek, and 
the historian tells us that afterwards the university " degenerated into 
the purely classical type." But the important point is yet to be noted. 
In 1795, when the English program for the academy was inaugurated, 
a statute of admission to the college seemed to prescribe English ; it is 
thus cited by Battle : 

The Students who passed approved examinations on the studies of the pre- 
paratory school were admitted upon the general establishment of the University. 
There was also an entrance examination in Latin, but the candidates were not 
required to translate English into Latin. 85 

English grammar, on the basis of Lowth and Webster, was the first 
study of the preparatory school. A university statute prescribing 
entrance examinations in the preparatory subjects was passed in 1795. 
This appears to be a clear case of an entrance examination in English 
grammar 24 years before 1819, the date which Broome assigns to 
Princeton. An error of a quarter of a century shows how dangerous 
it is to generalize on data derived only from a few well-known 

One further point as to the relations of colleges to English gram- 
mar needs is noted. We have seen that Hugh Jones, professor of 
mathematics in William and Mary, published the first grammar on 
record, written in America but printed in London in 1724. That 
book was called "A Short English Grammar, An Accidence to the 
English Tongue." The description of the contents of the book 66 
seems to indicate that it was deficient in syntax and was devoted 
largely to preparation for oral work. This, too, would certainly be 
in keeping with the early date at which it was published. The entire 
discussion of this chapter and of the following chapter indicates that 
grammar, as well as written composition and literature, grew up with 
and possibly out of declamation, oratory, disputations, and the vari- 
ous branches of oral composition. Hugh Jones's " English Gram- 
mar " is in strict accord with this hypothesis. 

Students of the history of education know that the colleges of 
America have usually been compelled to emphasize curricula of a more 
elementary grade in their early years. It was not true of Harvard, 
perhaps, because the founders of Harvard were the men who dictated 
the laws of 1642 and 1647 requiring a fitting school in every town of 
100 families. Moreover, these schools existed before the law of 1647. 
We have just seen Princeton under the necessity of establishing a 
, — B __ 

65 Battle, History of the Univ. of N. C, Vol. I, 96. 
••Meriwether, Col. Cur., 151-3. 



school of lower grade than the college itself and that the new Uni- 
versity of North Carolina felt compelled to do so. In the following 
chapter we shall see the University of Pennsylvania grow from an 
academy and maintain that academy as a fitting school until well 
into the nineteenth century. Western colleges growing up amid fron- 
tier conditions in the past 75 years also labored under this necessity. 

The fact that between 1775 and 1825 the older colleges of the East 
felt called upon to give instruction in the freshman or sophomore 
years in English grammar 6T carries with it several inferences : First, 
that there was a growing interest in the mother tongue, which com- 
pelled colleges established under the exclusive classical regime to 
enlarge their curricula, and, further, induced colleges founded in the 
last quarter of the eighteenth century to incorporate English as a 
language from the very beginning; second, that, as college students 
were entering without the ability to speak and write grammatical 
English, that subject was not adequately taught in the lower schools. 
In short, the attitude of colleges toward grammar before 1800 shows 
that there was need for the new subject; that the call for it was posi- 
tive; that this must have been in order that the subject might be 
introduced into the older institutions ; and that the lower schools were 
not meeting the need. 

"Princeton used Lowth in 1793. Snow, op. cit., 109. Yale used Lowth, 1774-1784, 
Webster, 1792, and Murray in succession before 1800. Ibid., 79, 91, 128. The College 
Rhode Island used the same texts in the same order. Ibid., 109, 111, 113. 

Chapter III. 

So customary is it to look to Massachusetts, and New England gen- 
erally, for pioneer movements in American colonial education that it 
is refreshing to find other colonies taking lead in giving to the ver- 
nacular a prominent place in the curriculum. We have seen that the 
first American writer of a textbook in grammar was the Virginian, 
Hugh Jones, who published his book in London in 1724 ; that Noah 
Webster was also antedated by Johnson, 1765, and by Byerley, 1773, 
both of New York, and by Curtis, 1778, of New Hampshire. The first 
school of authentic record we have found teaching the mother tongue 
" grammatically " was in Wassamacaw, S. C, taught by William 
Waterland. Moreover, the middle colonies, headed by Pennsylvania, 
were apparently two decades in advance of New England in having a 
respectable number of private schools placing grammar on a sec- 
ondary-school footing. To New York (King's College and Colum- 
bia) belongs credit for the first thorough devotion to, the mother 
tongue before 1800, and to North Carolina for the first entrance 
examination in the subject. 

New England, finally, can not claim the first secondary school using 
English curricula to exert the widest influence in advancing vernacu- 
lar instruction throughout the colonies. To Pennsylvania, to the 
Philadelphia Academy, and to Benjamin Franklin, belong this honor, 
the greatest of all. The present chapter gives an account of this insti- 
tution, with special reference to what it taught, the influence it 
exerted, and the motives which prompted it. 


The story of this institution begins with the year 1739. The evan- 
gelist, George Whitefield, preached in Philadelphia to enormous 
crowds but was excluded from most of the churches of the city. 68 
Opposition of religious sects met him on every side. The hostility 
naturally drew to his support inhabitants who were free from nar- 
rower religious prejudice, among them Benjamin Franklin. White- 
field's avowed mission — the founding of an orphanage — tinctured his 

68 He did preach in Christ Church, but was opposed by other churches. Wood, Hist, of 
TJ. of P. (1834) in Mem. Hist. So. of Pa., Ill, 178. 


fervid discussions and turned the attention of his listeners to the unsat- 
isfactory status of education for the unfortunates of the city. 69 In 
1743, amid the fervor of Whitefield's agitation, Franklin drew up a 
" scheme " for a new school in Philadelphia. 70 The scheme was not 
further promulgated for six years, danger of war with France and 
Spain and other troubles having intervened. 71 But in 1749 Franklin's 
scheme became the " Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in 
Philadelphia." Interest here centers in the English curriculum pro- 
posed by the author and inaugurated by the trustees. Extracts from 
the proposals, together with the constitutions and the program of the 
English school, furnish evidence as to what really was the curriculum 
which dared to lift its head among the Latin-grammar schools of the 


The proposals state that the rector should be — 

a man of good Understanding, good Morals, diligent and patient, learn'd in the 
Languages and Sciences, and a correct pure Speaker and Writer of the English T * 
Tongue. ... 

All should be taught to write a fair Hand, and swift, as that is useful to 

The English Language might be taught by Grammar; in which some of our 
best Writers, as Tillotson, Addison, Pope, Algernon Sidney, Cato's Letters, &c, 
should be Classicks : the Stiles principally to be cultivated, being the clear and 
concise. Reading should also be taught, and pronouncing, properly, distinctly, 
emphatically ; not with an even Tone, which under-does, nor a theatrical, which 
over-does Nature. 74 

To form their Stile they should be put to writing Letters to each other, making 
Abstracts of what they read ; or writing the same Things in their own Words : 
telling or writing Stories lately read, in their own Expressions. All to be revised 
and corrected by the Tutor, who should give his Reasons, and explain the Force 
and Import of Words, &c. 

89 In April, 1740, Franklin attended a meeting in which Whitefleld preached of the 
orphanage he intended to found. Franklin advised the founding of the institution in Phila- 
delphia, urging that materials and workmen would be lacking in the wilds of Georgia. 
This was the occasion on which, Franklin tells us, after taking out various smaller sums, 
" I finally empty'd my pocket wholly into the collector's bowl, gold and all." (Autobiog- 
raphy, Griffin ed., 173.) 

To the preaching of Whitefleld may be ascribed part of the emphasis in earlier Penn- 
sylvania legislation upon charity schools. This, together with the wide divergence of 
religious beliefs, caused Pennsylvania to be one of the last States to establish a free system 
of schools, in 1833. 

70 1743 was the year that Charles Fostesque advertised his private school in Philadelphia, 
teaching " English in a grammatical manner.' Pa. G., Dec. 1, 1743. 

71 Autobiography, op. cit , 178-89. 

72 Proposals given in Smyth, Life and Writ, of Benjamin Franklin, II, 386 et seq. 
78 All words italicized are so written in the proposals as printed in Smyth. 

T * This savors so strongly of Hamlet's speech to the players that we are surprised not to 
find Shapespeare in the list of " Classicks." 


To form their Pronunciation, they may be put on Declamations, repeating 
Speeches, delivering Orations &c. ; the Tutor assisting at the Rehearsals, teach- 
ing, advising, correcting their Accent, &c. TB 


These were drawn up by a committee of two, consisting of Tench 
Francis, attorney general, and Franklin. The constitutions stipulate 
for instruction " in the dead and living Languages, particularly 
their Mother Tongue, and all useful Branches of liberal Arts and 
Science " 76 and provide : 

An ACADEMY for teaching the Latin and Greek Languages, the English 
Tongue grammatically, and as a Language, the most useful living foreign Lan- 
guages, French, German and Spanish: As matters of Erudition naturally flowing 
from the Languages . . . (The subjects named in the Proposals.) 

The English Master shall be obliged, without the Assistance of any Tutor, to 
teach Forty Scholars the English Tongue grammatically, and as a Language." 

Concerning this plan, remarkable for its emphasis upon the Eng- 
lish, Franklin states that his desires " went no further than to procure 
a good English education." 78 But his friends insisted upon a classi- 
cal school. In both the documents just cited the sections dealing with 
the classics are distinctly subordinated and have the appearance of an 
afterthought, inserted after the original draft to appease Franklin's 
coworkers. For himself, the founder was resolved " to nourish the 
English school by every means in my power." 79 


The Academy and Charity School, with Franklin as the first presi- 
dent of the trustees, was established in 1750, 80 with the following 
vernacular program in the English school : 

First Class: 

English Grammar, rules. 


Short Pieces, such as Craxall's Fables. 

"To this vernacular instruction are added geography, chronology, ancient customs, 
morality, history, natural history, history of commerce, mathematics. Also, "All intended 
for Divinity should be taught the Latin and Greek; for Physick, the Latin, Greek and 
French; for Law, the Latin and French; Merchants, the French, German and Spanish; and 
though all should not be compell'd to learn Latin, Greek or the modern foreign Languages ; 
yet none that have an ardent Desire to learn them should be refused ; their English, 
Arithmetick, and other studies absolutely necessary being at the same time not neglected." 
Smyth, op. cit., 394. 

78 Montgomery, Hist, of U. of P., 46. 

" Ibid., 47, 48. 

78 Sparks, Works of Benjamin Franklin, II, 133. 

79 Ibid., 134. 

80 Franklin, writing from memory, in 1789, gives the date as 1749, but the date of con- 
veyance of " The New Building " was Feb. 1, 1750. Advertisement of the Academy in Pa. 
G., Dec. 11, 1750, 


Second Class: 

Expressive Reading. 

Grammar, parts of speech and sentence structure. 

The Spectator. 
Third Class: 


Elements of Rhetoric, Grammatical errors corrected. 
Fourth Class: 

Composition, Letter writing, little stories, accounts of reading. 

Letters, Temple and Pope. 

Speaking and Oral Reading. 
Fifth Class: 

Composition, Essays in Prose and Verse. 

Oral Reading and Speaking. 
Sixth Class: 

English Authors, Tillotson, Milton, Locke, Addison, Pope, Swift, Spectator 
and Guardian. 

Some classes always to be with the writing master and with the Arithme- 
tick master, while the rest are in the English school. 81 



Study of the proposals, the constitutions, and the program indicate 
a secondary school, with the vernacular as its central study, as preten- 
tious as any of the Latin schools of the period. 82 The phrases " Eng- 
lish Tongue grammatically " and " as a Language," many times 
repeated, are eloquent with that purpose. Franklin was no advocate 
of the classics as the backbone of public instruction. He affirmed " the 
still prevailing custom of . . . teaching the Latin and Greek lan- 
guages ... I consider ... in no other light than as the chapeau bras 
of modern literature." 83 Indeed, the English program contains 
almost every element of the best modern secondary-school practice in 
the vernacular : Grammar ; composition, both oral and written ; decla- 
mation ; and literature in the form of the classics of the mother tongue. 
Other studies are grouped around the English. It seems safe to 
believe that never before in America, and not for quite half a cen- 
tury later, was any such complete English program projected. It was 
almost 100 years in advance of its time. Like the leaders of most 
reforms, Franklin as champion of the mother tongue in secondary 
education seems to stand alone. The institution he founded was soli- 
tary. He was as distinctly a pioneer in education as he was in science. 

At first the English school prospered. In the opening year the 
English and the Latin schools together numbered more than 100 

81 The English program is compiled from Franklin's Works, Sparks, op. cit., II, 125-32. 

82 It may be safer to say that the English school was intended to be on an equal footing 
with the Latin. In reality, it never was. In the very beginning the Latin master received 
a salary of £200, the English master £100. The former had more assistance than the latter. 
The time of the English master was often employed in the Latin school. Smyth, op. cit., 
X, 12. 

83 Smyth, op. cit., II, 159, 


pupils. 84 In 1752 there were above 90 scholars in the English school 
alone, according to a minute of the trustees. 85 The first English 
master was David James Dove, who had taught grammar in Chi- 
chester, England, for 16 years and who was in Franklin's estimation 
;< a clean, pure Speaker and Writer of English." 86 Commenting on 
the early success of the English program, Franklin says : 

He (Mr. Dove) had a good Voice, read perfectly well, with proper Accent and 
just Pronunciation, and his Method of communicating Hahits of the same kind 
to his Pupils was this. When he gave a Lesson to one of them, he always first 
read it to him aloud, with all the different Modulations of the Voice that the Sub- 
ject and the Sense required. These the Scholars, in studying and repeating the 
Lesson, naturally endeavour'd to imitate; 8T and it was really surprizing to see 
how soon they caught his Manner. ... In a few Weeks after opening his 
School, the Trustees were invited to hear the Scholars read and recite. . . . The 
Performances were surprizingly good . . . and the English School thereby 
acquired such Reputation, that the Number of Mr. Dove's pupils soon mounted 
to upwards of Ninety, which Number did not diminish as long as he continued 
Master, viz., upwards of two years. 8 ' 

Unfortunately the high-water mark of the English school's pros- 
perity was reached only two years after its founding. In 1753 Ebe- 
nezer Kinnersley was elected successor to Dove, who devoted himself 
to a private school in Philadelphia which he had begun while still 
active in the Academy. 89 Kinnersley, who had collaborated with 
Franklin in experimenting with electricity, 90 was evidently more pro- 
ficient in science than in teaching English, for under him the English 
school began a rapid decline. In the words of Franklin, " the Trustees 
provided another Master . . . not possessing the Talents of an Eng- 
lish School Master in the same Perfection with Mr. Dove," whereupon 
" the school diminished daily and soon was found to have about forty 
scholars left. 91 The Performances ... in Reading and Speaking 

84 Quoted from sermon on education by Rev. Richard Peters, 1750, preached at the open- 
ing of the Academy, Montgomery, op. cit., 141. 

85 "There being above ninety Scholars in the English School, and Mr. Dove having 
declared he found it impossible duly to instruct so great a number without another assist- 
ant." . . . Quoted from the minutes, Dec. 10, 1751, ibid., 144. 

88 Letter to Samuel Johnson, Dec. 4, 1751. Ibid., 513. 

It is significant that Franklin endeavored by every means in hie power to secure Samuel 
Johnson to become the English master. Ibid., 508. 

87 This is to-day considered extremely bad practice in teaching oral English. " Imitate 
me," " this is the way to speak the passage," is indeed the quickest way to secure results 
and doubtless enabled Dove to give public exhibitions within a few weeks after beginning 
his work. But direct imitation is bad pedagogy. 

88 Smyth, op. cit., X, 14. 15. 
•» Pa. G., Aug. 29, 1751. 

80 Kinnersley is said by Provost Smith to have been " the chief inventor of the electrical 
apparatus, as well as the author of a considerable part of those discoveries in electricity 
published by Mr. Franklin, to whom he communicated them." Amer. Mag., Oct., 1758 ; 
cited, Wood, Mem. Hist. Soc. Pa.. Ill, 191. Kinnersley published " Experiments in Elec- 
tricity," 1764, in Philadelphia. Cat. of Public. Prior to 1775, in Trans, of Am. Antiq. 
Soc, II, 570. Evans, op. cit., 3, 390. 

81 The trustees' minutes, Mar. 5, 1757, give the number of students: Philosophy school, 
12 ; Latin, 60 ; Mathematical.. 22 ; English, 31. Montgomery, op. cit., 282-4, 



. . . discontinued and the English School has never since recovere 
its original Reputation." 92 

The retrogression of the English school and the prosperity of the 
Latin school receives Franklin's bitter condemnation. He himself 
was absent from Philadelphia much of the time for nearly 30 years, 
and, as he says, " in the course of 14 years several of the original Trus- 
tees, who had been disposed to favour the English School, deceased, 
and others not so favorable were chosen to supply their places." 93 
The whole story of the process by which, to use his words, English 
" was starved out of the Scheme of Education " is set forth by him in 
" Observations Relative to the Intentions of the Original Founders of 
the Academy in Philadelphia," published near the end of his life, in 
the year 1789. 94 

Almost pathetically he bemoans the failure of the English school : 

I am the only one of the original Trustees now living, and I am just stepping 
into the grave myself. ... I seem here to be surrounded by the Ghosts of my 
dear departed Friends, beckoning and urging me to use the only Tongue now 
left us, in demanding That Justice to our Grandchildren that our Children has 
[Franklin's defective grammar] been denied." 

He cites numerous instances of prejudice on the part of the " Latin- 
ists " to kill the English curriculum, running it down until in 1763 
" Mr. Kinnersley's time was entirely taken up in teaching little boys 
the elements of the English Language (that is, it was dwindled into 
a School similar to those kept by old Women, who teach Children 
Letters) ." 96 In another connection Franklin asserts : 

>The Latinists were combin'd to deny the English School as useless. It was 
without Example, they said, as indeed they still say (1789), that a School for 
teaching the Vulgar Tongue, and the Sciences in that Tongue, was ever formed 
with a College, and that the Latin Masters were fully competent to teach 
English.* 7 . . . Thus by our injudiciously starving the English Part out of our 
Scheme of Education, we only saved £50 a year. . . . We lost Fifty Scholars 
which would have been £200 a year, and defeated, besides, one great End of the 
Institution.* 8 

In spite of " Neglect, Slights, Discouragements, and Injustice " 
(Franklin's words) 99 the English program never entirely died. On 
July 23, 1769, a resolution passed the board that " after the 17th of 

92 Smyth, op. cit., X, 15. 

»*Ibid., 16. 

•* Ibid., 9-31. 

95 Smyth, op. cit., X, 29. 

98 " The State of the English School was taken into consideration and it was observed 
that Mr. Kinnersley's Time was entirely taken up with Teaching little Boys the Elements 
of the English Language." Min. trustees, Feb. 3, 1763. Montgomery, op. cit., 247. 

97 Smyth, op cit, X, 16, 19. 

88 Franklin appears to overstate the opposition. About the only part of the English 
program actually starved out was the public exhibitions, of which Mr. Dove had made so 
popular a showing. It is interesting to note that the branch which hung on most tenaciously 
was English grammar. 

•» Smyth, op. cit., 27, 


October next, Mr. Kinnersley's present Salary do cease, and that from 
that time the said School . . . shall be on the following Footing, viz 
. . ." (the fees of the pupils to go directly to the English master, who 
is guaranteed no salary. 1 But on August 1, 1769, this action was 
reconsidered, and on July 21, 1771, " the Provost was desired to adver- 
tise for a Master able to teach English Grammatically, which seems 
was all the English Master was now required to teach, the other 
Branches originally promised being dropt entirely." 2 So the hard 
struggle for English went on. Franklin's protest of 1789 did very 
little good, and in 1810 Dr. John Andrews, provost of the University 
of Pennsylvania, affirmed that the principal master of English was 
not called professor, but master; that this work was considered below 
college grade and subordinate to it. The provost thought that on the 
death of the then incumbent at the head of the English school it 
would be abolished altogether. 3 

In the preceding chapter has been described the course of the Eng- 
lish program in King's College and Columbia, under the leadership 
of Samuel Johnson and of William Samuel Johnson. In strange con- 
trast to the " starving " process which well-nigh killed English 
instruction in the College and Academy of Philadelphia we find the 
admirable courses offered in 1792 by the president of the New York 
institution. The writer feels that the main cause of this startling 
contrast was due to the influence of Provost Smith, a Latinist, in 
Pennsylvania, as contrasted with the influence of the Johnsons, mod- 
erns, in King's College. But an even more important cause may have 
been the difference in the internal organization of the two institutions. 
In Columbia the college curriculum was organized by departments 
on an equal footing. In Pennsylvania there was a philosophical, 
an English classical, and a mathematical school, each with its almost 
distinct program, attempting to grow up side by side. The Colum- 
bia organization seems to give each department a better oppor- 
tunity to demonstrate its worth, being essentially a college, rather than 
a university, organization. Obviously, English had a better chance to 
raise itself to independent dignity in Columbia. It would be interest- 
ing to speculate as to the course in the vernacular in Pennsylvania had 
Franklin been able to continue his personal supervision. 


Such, then, was the precarious and inglorious career of English in 
Franklin's school, a career which belied the purpose of the founder and 
was entirely inconsistent with the success of the first few years. To 

1 Ibid., 23. a Ibid., 27. » Battle, Hist. Univ. N. Car., I, 50. 

60258°— 22 4 



affirm that this institution, prematurely attempting to raise verna< 
lar instruction to the dignity of the Latin, was an influential leader of 
that movement may seem foolhardy. 

At the outset we face the fact that the Philadelphia Academy 
stands, in point of time, at the head of a list of private schools which, 
between 1750 and 1765 in Pennsylvania and adjoining colonies, pro- 
posed to teach the English language. This fact, taken alone, may 
have been merely a coincidence. Indeed, from the viewpoint of 
chronological priority, Fortesque's school in Philadelphia (1743) 
itself precedes Franklin's. Only in connection with facts cited below 
is the Philadelphia Academy to be accorded the position of leadership. 

Next may be cited the striking fact that the distinctive phrases 
describing the central purpose of the new venture — " English Tongue 
grammatically " and " English as a language " — many times repeated 
in the published announcements and documents of the Franklin 
school, were used verbatim, or nearly so, by many schools immediately 
succeeding it in the colonies. This also, considered alone, may not be 
significant of leadership. It may be said with justice that in 1743 
Fortesque, in Benjamin Franklin's own paper, used the equivalent 
phrase — " English in a grammatical manner " 4 — and that Water- 
land in South Carolina, in 1734, used almost the equivalent phrase — 
'* English being taught grammatically." 5 There is no attempt to 
ascribe to Franklin the authorship of these phrases or of the ideas 
back of them ; 6 but both schools were obscure and private ventures, 
without the direct advocacy of a powerful publication like Frank- 
lin's Philadelphia Gazette. Moreover, the auspices of the Franklin 
school, warmly supported as it was by such men as Attorney General 
Francis and various colony officials, with a board of 24 trustees of 
leading men of the city, were likely to secure all publicity possible in 

The place to look first for the academy's direct influence on other 
schools is in Philadelphia, its immediate environs, and in towns of 
close proximity. Within 10 years several other schools in Phila- 
delphia were teaching English grammatically. 7 Three of these were 

* Pa. G., Dec. 1, 1743. 

Charles Hoole, 1660, may have been the inventor of the phrase. He says : " He that 
would be further instructed how by teaching English more Grammatically, to prepare his 
Scholars for Latine, let him consult Mr. Poole's English Accidents, and Mr. Wharton's 
English Grammar ; as the best books that I know at present." Bardeen's reprint, 80. 

6 S. Car. G., Nov. 16, 1734. 

• The comment might also be made that the phrases cited are the natural expressions of 
any schoolman desiring to emphasize English grammar in his curriculum. This comment 
has a certain validity ; but " English tongue grammatically " and " English as a language " 
are truly distinctive phrases. The New England schoolmasters employed much more 
prosaic expressions, such as " according to the Rules of Grammar," " understanding the 
English Grammar, " learn the English Grammar," and the like. See Chap. II. 

1 1n 1759 the number of dwelling houses in Philadelphia was 4,474, indicating a popula- 
tion of between 20,000 and 30,000. R. Proud, Hist. Pa. in N. A., 1770, 279. 


established by David James Dove, the first English master of the 
academy. The first was a girl's school, in 1751, in which English 
grammar was taught. For devotion to this school and neglect of his 
duties in the academy Dove was dismissed in 1753. 8 The second was 
in 1758, when Dove and Riley professed to teach " English Language 
according to the most exact rules of grammar." 9 The third may have 
been a continuation of the second, when in 1759 Dove and Williams 
announced " Grammatical Knowledge of their (the pupils') mother 
tongue, as is laid down in Greenwood's Grammar." 10 Two years 
later Dove became master in Germantown Academy, where he taught 
" English as a Language." " Dove had taught English grammar 16 
years in England ; it might therefore be fairer to attribute the credit 
for the teaching of English to direct influence from the mother 
country. There can be little doubt that Dove in these schools was 
endeavoring to make capital of the popularity he had enjoyed at the 

In 1754 another Philadelphia school was projected by one John 
Jones, " late assistant to Mr. Dove in the Academy." 

[He] has opened his new School-House where . . . the English Tongue will be 
taught ... to those, whose Parents request it, as a Language, and delivery in 
the method pursued by that worthy Professor, Mr. Dove when in the Academy, 
by which his Scholars made such a wonderful Proficiency, and he gained so 
great a favor deservedly." 

Referring to schools like Jones's and Dove's, we have also Franklin's 
own testimony that the very failure of his plans in the academy 
spread the instruction of English as a language. He says : 

Parents, indeed, despairing of any reformation, withdrew their children, and 
placed them in private schools, of which several now appeared in the city, pro- 
fessing to teach what had been promised to be taught in the Academy; and they 
have since flourished and increased by the scholars the Academy might have 
had, if it had performed its engagements." 

Evidence is not lacking that the neighboring colonies were aware 
of the success of Franklin's school. For example, in 1754, while the 
English school was still flourishing, an interesting communication 
appeared in the Maryland Gazette, written by one who signed himself 
f Philo Merilandicus," to this effect : " On inquiry it has been found 
that there are (at least) 100 Marylanders in the academy in Phila- 
delphia. . . ." 14 The writer laments the loss to Maryland of £5,000 
sterling a year. He says also : " Vast sums are every year transmitted 
to France, etc., for the Education of Young Gentlemen. . . ." He 

» Pa. G., Aug. 29. 1751. 

• Ibid., Jan. 12, 1758. 

» Ibid., Aug. 9, 1759. 

11 Ibid., Nov. 19, 1761. 

u Pa. Q., Oct. 24, 1754. 

18 Sparks, Franklin's Works, II, 149. 

" In 1755 the academy had 300 students. Wickersham, Hist, of Ed. in Pa., 62. 





expresses a wish to establish a college on the East Shore, and conceiv 
ways and means for keeping within Maryland the money advanced as 
aforesaid for the use of Pennsylvania. 15 Here is positive evidence that 
the academy in Philadelphia, which had the distinction of an Englis 
program, was attracting attention. 

Suggestion to the same effect is found in the will of one James Van 
Horn, of Dover, East New Jersey, in 1761. He gives all his estate to 
his sons John and James, u James to be given the best education the 
Province of Pennsylvania affords, either at the Academy, or Mr. 
Dove's English School." ie 

If the Philadelphia College and Academy was attracting numerous 
students from other colonies, 17 there may be found in this fact a 
motive for the action taken in 1763 by the College of New Jersey, a 
near rival. President S. Finley in that year announced the opening 
of an English school as an appendage of the college, with an English 
program almost identical with the academy's. 18 

The College of New Jersey, which thus seems to have followed t 
lead of the Philadelphia Academy in establishing an English scho 
was itself influential in spreading grammatical instruction in the 
mother tongue. It, too, was a cosmopolitan institution, drawing stu- 
dents from the South, from Maryland and Virginia especially. 

The influence of Princeton men who became teachers may be illus- 
trated by the experience of Philip Fithian (Princeton, 1770-1772), 
who became tutor in the family (plantation school) of the famous 
Col. Carter, of Westmoreland County, Va. In his Journal and Let- 
ters we find four entries relating to instruction in grammar. " The 
Second Son is reading English Grammar ; " " Mr. Carter put into my 
hands for the use of the School The British Grammar." 19 Fithian 
evidently felt the need of renewing this subject, for we find this 
entry a few days later in his journal : " I read Pictete, The Spectator, 
Lambert, History of England, English Grammar, Arithmetic and 
Magazines by turns." 20 The final entry perhaps indicates why 
Fithian was so industrious in teaching Carter's children grammar: 
" Mr. Carter is a remarkable man in English Grammar." 21 

"Letter to Jonas Greene, Md. G., Mar. 21, 1754. Reprinted, Steiner, Hist, of Ed. in 
Md., 29. 

» N. Y. M., Mar. 9, 1761 ; N. J. Arc, XX, 541. 

17 George B. Wood, writing in 1834, attests to the celebrity of the academy. " From this 
period, 1757, the institution rose rapidly in importance. The extent and liberality of its 
plan, conjoined with the excellence of its management, secured it the patronage of the 
neighboring population ; and it soon acquired a celebrity which attracted numerous stu- 
dents from distant colonies. Prom Maryland, Virginia, and the Carol inas it received much 
support . . . many planters preferred it, for the education of their children, to the schools 
of England." Wood, Hist, of Univ. of Pa., Pa. Hist. Soc, III, 185. 

18 Pa. J., Nov. 10, 1763 ; N. J. Arc, XXIV, 266. See Chap. II, p. 27. 
"Fithian, Jour, and Let., 55, 56. 
»Ibid., 66. 
» Ibid., 97. 


Kobert Cather's . School of Elizabeth Town, East New Jersey, in 
1762, was modeled on exactly the same English plan as the Phila- 
delphia Academy. He opened a boarding school with a varied 
curriculum : 

as also, Boys to be instructed in the Beauty and Propriety of the English Tongue, 
which shall be taught as a Language; the best English Authors shall be read 
and explained ; the Art of Rhetoric, or Oratory, shall be taught with Care and 
Exactness, Specimens of the Boys' Proficiency therein shall be given every 
Quarter. 22 

This is the exact Philadelphia scheme. 

In 1767 a school called the Somerset Academy was founded in 
Somerset County, Md., whose curriculum also bears a striking resem- 
blance to the Franklin institution. The following reference is found 
in a letter written by a " Gentleman on his Travels " (Wm. Rind), 
who had visited the Philadelphia Academy in 1769 : 

Erected about two years ago, ... in the county of Somerset, Maryland, ... a 
house sixty-two feet in length and twenty feet in breadth; . . . employs two 
Masters of Liberal Education [who teach] . . . the rudiments of English 
Grammar, . . . Spelling, . . . writing, . . . Latin and Greek, . . . and various 
branches of the Arts and Sciences. . . . Great pains are taken to cultivate the 
Art of Speaking, which is necessary in order to shine in the Senate, at the bar, 
and in the pulpit. 23 

The last sentence of the foregoing quotation, with its stress upon 
speaking, is highly suggestive of the Franklin curriculum. That 
seems to have been the most popular part of Dove's work, Franklin 
especially commending the excellence of the public programs given 
by Dove's pupils. 

Similar stress is placed upon speaking in several notices of schools 
included in this section. It may not be out of place to note again that 
the original u scheme " was drawn up in Philadelphia in 1743, while 
the city was still under the spell of Whitefield's eloquence. Franklin, 
himself a modest speaker, may have had in mind the power of White- 
field when he prescribed in his first paragraph that the rector of his 
school must be a " correct pure Speaker and Writer of the English 
Tongue," and directed " making Declamations, repeating Speeches 
and delivering Orations." Indeed, in regard to grammar, his scheme 
says merely : " The English Language might be taught by Gram- 
mar." Perhaps at that time he was not convinced that English could 
be taught " as a language "; he certainly was so convinced before the 
proposals and the constitutions appeared in 1749. 

The direct influence of the academy spread to a marked degree 
through the efforts of students who became teachers in other colonies. 
This is indicated by the evidence of Philo Merilandicus cited above. 

"Pa. J., Apr. 1, 1762; N. J. Arc, XXIV, 21. 
23 Va. G., Feb. 23, 1769. 




Influence spread in this way certainly in the case of Andrew D'Ell 
cent and Alexander Alexander, who in 1766 announced a school in 
Charleston, S. C, as follows: 

Andrew D'Ellicent and Alexander Alexander, late from the College of Phil 
delphia, beg leave to inform the Publick that they intend to open a School . 
where will be taught the English, French, Latin and Greek Languages gra 
matically, likewise writing, etc. . . . Young ladies may be instructed in the 
English Grammar as to be enabled to speak and write their native tongue 
with . . . Propriety. Boys who have a taste and talents for Oratory may be 
taught rhetoric, and to pronounce Orations with due action and diction." 

In 1757 a list of all the pupils enrolled in the Philadelphia Acad- 
emy the preceding year includes the name of one Lindley Murray in 
the English school. 25 Wood, a University of Pennsylvania professor, 
in his history of that institution, written in 1834, asserts that he has 
no doubt that this is the Murray who wrote the famous Murray gram- 
mars. 26 Murray, who wrote in England, we know to have been an 
American. If Wood is correct and Lindley Murray did actually 
receive his first instruction in grammar at the academy, this in itself 
would be a strong argument for the direct influence of the institution 
on later schools and school practices. 

There is no intention of exaggerating the influence of Franklin's 
academy. Probably the schools and schoolmasters did not deliber- 
ately follow the academy as a model. It is much more likely that 
many of them were influenced by the numerous educational writers 
whose works were widely circulated in America, the very men who 
moved Franklin to his innovation. Responsive also, as was Franklin, 
to the growing feeling of restlessness under the Latin curriculum as 
unsuited to the intensely practical life of the Nation, many of the 
schoolmen turned instinctively to the mother tongue. A discussion 
of these broader agencies, which spread the vernacular instruction far 
more powerfully than did the example of Franklin or of any institu- 
tion, constitutes the following section. 

The history of educational reforms shows that observation and 
imitation of actual school practices, even more than the study of 
educational theories, is the unrivaled moving force. To Melanch- 
thon's school, to St. Paul's, to Yverdun, to the Boston Latin, to 
Rugby, to Gary, schoolmen make pilgrimages, either literal or figura- 
tive; then they go home to inaugurate these innovations for them- 
selves. There is reason to suppose that this was a common procedure 
in 1750 to 1775 ; 27 and the one school, above all others, which in loca- 

** S. C. G., May 20, 1766. 25 List printed in Montgomery. Hist, of U. of P., 284. 

16 Wood, Hist, of U. P., 186. 

27 An interesting example of this, of the date we are now considering, and establishing 
further the influence of the Philadelphia institution is the following : Rev. James Madison 
was graduated from William and Mary in 1771, and nine years later became President of 
that college. He is said to have introduced into William and Mary the curriculum of the 
Philadelphia College and Academy. In 1785 he received the degree of doctor of divinity 
from the University of Pennsylvania. Montgomery, op. cit., 263. 


tion, in point of time, in publicity, in prestige of foundation, was 
most suited for such leadership was Franklin's English school of 
1750. We believe that Robert Proud, in his History of Pennsylvania 
in North America, written between 1770 and 1780, was right in at 
least one respect when he said : " The College and Academy of Phila- 
delphia ... is likely ... to become the most considerable of its 
kind, perhaps in British America." 28 


UP TO 1775. 

Preceding sections presented schools and colleges teaching English 
grammatically and the Franklin academy as having the right to be 
considered the first leading secondary school with the English pro- 
gram. Consideration now turns to an analysis of the educational 
ideas which induced American schools to enlarge upon the few scat- 
tered beginnings of grammar in the eighteenth century and to adopt 
very widely at its close an English program with grammar as its 
central study. 


Several educational "treatises widely known in England made th'eir 
way into the American colonies before 1775. Prominent among these 
were " Some Thoughts concerning Education," 1639, by John 
Locke; 29 " British Education," by Thomas Sheridan, 1756; 30 " Obser- 
vations for Liberal Education," London, 1742, by George Turnbull ; 31 
" Dialogues Concerning Education," published anonymously, 1745, 
by James Fordyce ; 82 and " Essays on Education, by Milton, Locke, 
and the Authors of the Spectator," London, 1761 edition, by K. 
Wynne. 83 

In 1747 Franklin advertised the works of Locke, Turnbull, and 
Fordyce, and showing that he was himself interested in these books 

28 Proud, op. cit., II, 281. 

29 Advertised, Pa. G., Dec. 3, 1747, by B. Franklin ; B. N. L., Sept. 4, 1750 ; N. Y. M., 
Sept. 24, 1752 ; Conn. G., Apr. 12, 1755 ; Ga. G., Apr. 14, 1763 ; B. Ch., May 1768, etc. 

8° Advertised, S. C. G. and C. J., Mar. 1, 1763 ; N. Y. M., Nov. 7, 1763 ; B. Ch., May 2, 
1768; Va. G., June 10, 1773, etc. 

The full title of Sheridan's book is " British Education ; or, the Source of the Disorders 
of Great Britain, being an Essay towards proving, that the Immorality, Ignorance, and 
false Taste, which so generally prevail are the natural and necessary Consequences of the 
present defective System of Education, with An Attempt to show that a Revival of the 
Art of Speaking, and the Study of our own Language, might contribute, in a great Measure 
to the Cure of those Evils." By Thomas Sheridan, A. M., London, 1756 edition. 

81 Advertised, Pa. G., Dec, 3, 1747, by B. Franklin; N. Y. G., Dec. 11, 1753; N. Y. M., 
June, 1775, etc. 

83 Advertised, Pa. G., Sept. 22, 1747, by B. Franklin ; N. Y. G., Nov. 13, 1753, etc. 

83 Advertised, N. Y. M., Sept. 30, 1765 ; N. Y. G. or W. P. B., Oct. 19, 1761 ; ibid., Feb. 11, 
1771 ; ibid., Sept. 10, 1769, etc. 


he quotes Locke extensively. 34 What is more significant he drew up 
his plan of English education in exceedingly close conformity to one 
striking passage in Turnbull. No attempt is made to use the " deadly 
parallel " ; 35 but the conclusion is inevitable that Franklin was thor- 
oughly familiar with Turnbull. At any rate, every one of the main 
parts of the academy's English program is advocated in the same 
order as in TurnbulPs discussion. Both writers believe that gram- 
mar, composition, declamation, oratory, and the study of English 
classics are primarily for the cultivation of " stile," and to cap it all 
the principal motive of each is regard for the various professions in 
which the mother tongue is to be used. 


Four more contentions are discernible in the educational treatises 
which came to America in the eighteenth century. 36 The first of these 
is the burden of learning Latin. The revolt against the extreme hold 
of Latin is a very old one, having as its earliest conspicuous cham- 
pions Comenius, Mulcaster, and Milton. An idea of the unspeakable 
grind transferred from John Sturm's Gymnasium to the sixteenth- 
century grammar schools of England may be seen by a glance at 
Sturm's curriculum. He required seven years to be spent on the 
acquirement of a " pure Latin style," two to be given to " elegance," 
and five collegiate years to be passed in learning the art of Latin 
speech, 14 years, with the ultimate goal of proficiency in writing and 
speaking the Latin tongue. 37 

Comenius, the Bohemian educational reformer, 1592-1671, voiced 
one of the earliest protests against Latin instruction like that of 
Sturm. Comenius, to be sure, retained Latin as the most valuable 
study, but he would first have the vernacular taught, then a neighbor- 
ing modern tongue, then Latin, Greek, etc. He advocated as well 
objective study of the natural world. 38 

Mulcaster, 1582, also raised his protest : " Is it not a marvelous 
bondage to become servants to one tongue, for learning's sake, the 
most part of our time . . . whereas we may have the very same 
treasure in our own tongue, with the gain of most time. ... I love 
Rome, but London better; I favor Italy, but England more; ... I 
honor the Latin, but I worship the English." 39 

Milton, in 1650, urges : " We do amiss to spend seven or eight years 
merely in scraping together as much miserable Latin and Greek as 

84 Franklin illustrated his " proposals " by extracts from Milton, Locke, Sheridan, 
Walker, Rollin, Turnbull, " with some others." In Smyth, Life and Writings of B. Frank- 
lin, II, 387, Franklin's quotations are given. 

85 See Appendix B. The writer has seen no other suggestion that Franklin followed 
Turnbull closely. 

88 Nearly all the other writers cited follow Locke very closely. 
8T Summary of Sturm's curriculum. Monroe, Hist, of Ed., 391. 

88 Comenius, Great Didactic, Laurie, 115. 

89 Elementarie, pt. 1 ; Quick, Ed. Ref., 300-2. 


might be learned otherwise easily and delightfully in one year. . . . 
These are not matters to be wrung from poor striplings like blood 
out of the nose or the plucking of untimely fruit." He refers to the 
prevalent instruction as " those grammatical flats and shallows, where 
they stuck unreasonably to learn a few words with lamentable con- 
struction " and as " that assinine feast of sow-thistles and brambles, 
which is commonly set before them as all the food and entertainment 
of their tenderest and most docible age." 40 . 

The goals to which these early reformers strove were, first, knowl- 
edge to be written in the vernacular; second, instruction in reading 
and writing for the masses, in order that this secular knowledge, like 
religious knowledge in the Bible, might be made accessible to all. 

Before the eighteenth-century agitators began work English was 
established in its elementary branches in the schools and books in 
English teaching were widely printed; that is, the two goals of 
Comenius, Mulcaster, and Milton were attained. Now began the work 
of a second group of educational reformers, headed by the greatest 
master of them all, John Locke. They led the attack upon the second- 
line trenches of Latin and established the principle that for the masses 
a vernacular education of a secondary grade is equivalent to a Latin 
education of the same grade for a privileged few. To-day's fight is 
for the third-line trench and over the question, shall the classics 
remain as an important part of the curriculum because of the few 
privileged to attain the highest culture ? 

The newer leaders, headed by Locke, sound the same note, lament- 
ing the heavy burden of the Latin-grammar program. Locke, in 
1693, says: 

When I consider what ado is made about learning a little Latin and Greek, how 
many years are spent in it, I can hardly forbear thinking that the parents of 
children still live in fear of the schoolmaster's rod. . . . How else is it possible 
that a child can be chained to the oar seven, eight, or ten of the best years of 
his life, to get a language or two? 41 

The Tatler of 1710 urges that masters should teach pupils to use 
English instead of perplexing them with Latin epistles, themes, and 
verses — 

For can anything be more absurd than our way of proceeding; ... to put 
tender Wits into the intricate maze of Grammar, and a Latin Grammar ; ... to 
learn an unknown art by an unknown tongue; ... to carry them a dark round- 
about way to let them in at the back door? " 

Dr. Johnson, Franklin's friend, in the preface of his dictionary, said : 
"A whole life can not be spent upon syntax and etymology, and even 
a whole lifetime would not be sufficient." 43 

40 Wynne, op. cit., 5-8. 

41 Wynne, op. cit., 29 ; Locke, Thoughts Concerning Education. 
« Tatler, IV., No. 234. 

43 Johnson, Diet, of Eng. Language, I, preface, 13. 


It may be worth while to dwell upon the influence of the Spectator 
and Tatler, 44 because Addison and Steele speak out boldly for English 

Addison and Steele enjoyed popularity on both sides of the Atlantic. 
Says Steele: 

I found . . . the principal defect of our English discipline to lie in the Initia- 
tory part, which, although it needs the greatest care and skill, is usually left to 
the conduct of those blind guides, Chance and Ignorance. ... I could furnish 
you with a catalogue of English books . . . wherein you could not find ten lines 
together of "common Grammar," which is a necessary consequence of our mis- 
management in that province. . . . The liberal Arts and Sciences are all beauti- 
ful as the Graces; nor has Grammar, the severe mother of all, so frightful a 
face of her own ; it is the vizard put upon it, that scares children. She is made 
to speak hard words that, to them, sound like conjuring. Let her talk intel- 
ligibly and they will listen to her. 

In this, I think ... we show ourselves true Britons, always overlooking our 
natural advantages. It has been the practice of the wisest nations to learn 
their own language by stated rules to avoid the confusion that would follow 
from leaving it to vulgar use. Our English Tongue ... is the most determined 
in its construction, and reducible to the fewest rules. 

To speak and write without absurdity the language of one's country is com- 
mendable in persons in all stations, and to some indispensably necessary. To 
this purpose, I would recommend above all things the having a Grammar of our 
mother tongue first taught in our schools. . . . Where is such grammar to be 
had? ... It is our good fortune to have such a Grammar with notes now in 
the press, to be published next Term. 

In a footnote Wynne adds : " This, I suppose, was the English 
Grammar published by John Brightland, 45 with the approbation of 
Isaac Bicherstaff, the edition of which was published 48 in 1726." 
This reference to the Brightland grammar leads to the supposition 
that Steele was the author. 


The second note, frequently found in the treatises on education of 
the eighteenth century, is that English is the language of daily use. 
This was the burden of the Tatler just cited. Locke also would have 
grammar learned by those whose main business is with the tongue or 
pen, but — 

it must be the grammar of his own tongue ; of the language he uses ; ... it will 
be a matter of wonder, why young gentlemen are forced to learn the grammar of 
foreign and dead languages, and are never once told of the grammar of their 
own tongue. . . . Nor is their own language ever proposed to them as worthy 
their care and cultivating; though they have daily use of it, and are not 

** Franklin undoubtedly drew his first interest in the teaching of English from his close 
study and imitation of these, as narrated in his autobiography. 
"Tatler, IV, No. 234. 
48 Wynne, op. cit., 177-9. 


seldom . . . judged of by their handsome or awkward way of expressing them- 
selves in lt.* T . . . And since 'tis English that an Englishman will have constant 
use of, that is the language he should chiefly cultivate; ... to mind what Eng- 
lish his pupil speaks or writes is below the dignity of one bred up among Greek 
and Latin, tho' he have but little of them himself. These are the learned lan- 
guages, fit only for learned men to meddle with and teach; English is the 
language of the illiterate vulgar. 48 

A student " ought to study grammar, among the other helps of 
speaking well ; but it must be the grammar of his own tongue . . . 
that he may understand his own country speech nicely and speak it 
properly ; and to this purpose grammar is necessary but it is the gram- 
mar only of their own proper tongues" 49 

In 1769, in the Boston Chronicle, Joseph Ward strikes the note of 
English as of daily value to the masses as follows : 

The subscriber has opened an English Grammar School in King Street. ... 
The understanding the English Grammar is so necessary for those who have not 
a Liberal Education, and as it will greatly facilitate the learning any other 
Language, such a school is said by the Literati to be very much wanted in this 
town. . . . M 

In 1769 Kichard Carew asserts : 

Whatsoever grace any other language carrieth in verse or prose, in tropes or 
metaphors, in echoes or agonominations, they may all be lively and exactly 
represented in ours. Will you have Plato's verse? Read Sir Thomas Smith; 
The Ionic? Sir Thomas More; Cicero's? Ascham; Varro? Chaucer; Demos- 
thenes? Sir John Cheke . . . Will you read Virgil? Take the Earl of 
Surrey; Catullus? Shakespeare and Marlowe's fragment; Ovid? Daniel; 
Lucian? Spencer; Martial? Sir John Da vies and others. Will you have 
all in all for prose and verse? Take the miracle of our age, Sir Philip Sidney. 61 

We have seen above that Franklin in his " proposals " stressed the 
idea of " Regard being had for the several Professions for which they < ^ 
(the students) are intended." English is the instrument of trade, of 
law, pulpit, and Senate Chamber. Locke pointed out that a man is 
often judged by his skillful or awkward use of his native language. 
Wynne's books spread the teaching of Locke, Milton, and Steele in 
America, and Turnbull follows Milton and Locke with almost the 
identical argument. 

Milton said : 

Tho a linguist should pride himself to have all the tongues Babel cleft the 
world into : yet if he had not studied the solid things in them as well as words 
and lexicons, he were nothing so much to be estimated a learned man, as any 
yeoman or tradesman competently wise in his own dialect only. 62 

« T Wynne, op. cit., 60-2. 

» Sparks, op cit., II, 137-138. Cited by Franklin in his " proposals." 

<B Footnote in Franklin's " Observations," Sparks, op. cit. ; also Wynne, 252. 

60 B. G., Apr. 20, 1769. 

61 Quoted, Watson, Beginnings, 11, from " Elizabethan Critical Essays," Gregory Smith, 
2, 293. 

M Wynne, op. cit., 4, 5. 


Locke expressed the obverse idea that " nothing can be more ridicu- 
lous than that a father should waste his own money and his son's 
time in setting him to learn the Roman language, when at the same 
time he designs him for a trade." 53 Turnbull follows in the same 
vein : " Few think their children qualified for a trade till they have 
been whipped at a Latin School for five or six years to learn a little of 
that which they are obliged to forget." 54 

The demand for practical instruction is most vigorously demanded 
by Turnbull as follows : 

Can any one hesitate to choose whether that his son should early be acquainted 
with men, manners, and things, or that he should early be a profound linguist. 
. . . What man of sense . . . would not rather have his son at fourteen toler- 
ably skilled in geography and history, acquainted with the true method of 
unravelling nature, . . . and able to express truths of these classes with pro- 
priety and taste, in his own language . . . though he know little Latin? 55 

Sheridan, in a reductio ad absurdum upon the utility of classical 
learning, tells of the " ingenious and learned translator of Milton's 
Paradise Lost . . . now starving on a poor curacy in a remote part 
of the country. And shall many fathers expect that their sons will be 
able to outdo him in learning, or have nobler opportunities of display- 
ing it?" 56 

Thomas Byerley, author of the second grammar published in 
America, 1779, in the same year set up a grammar school in New 
York. In his elaborate advertisements, after setting forth the neces- 
sity of giving up the study of Latin for the purpose of learning Eng- 
lish grammar, he quotes Locke in the passage just cited above on the 
futility of making a boy learn the Eoman language when he is at the 
same time designed for a trade. 57 

Even more vigorously does William Watson speak of his school in 
Charleston, S. C, 1769, " for the Instruction of Youth in the Eng- 
lish Language . . . grammatically. . . . The utility of such an 
undertaking is too obvious to need any Recommendation." He goes 
on to say that Latin and Greek are of " little consequence to those who 
spend their days in rural, mercantile, or mechanical Employments." 
He dwells on the inutility of spending " six or seven years in the 
study of dead languages. ... If knowledge can be obtained . . . 
without the dry and tedious process ... it may not be a useless 
attempt. . . . Such an attempt as this the subscriber humbly pre- 
sumes to make." 58 

One of the earliest notices of an English school is William Gough's, 
a plantation school near Charleston, in 1742. "William Gough 

63 Ibid., 46. Be Sheridan, op. cit, 222-3. 

M Turnbull, op. cit., 4. <" N. Y. G. and W. M., Aug. 23, 1773. 

"Turnbull, op. cit., 260. «» S. C. G., June 24, 1769. 


gives notice that he is now settled entirely at the Plantation of Mr. 
James Taylor, and continues to teach the several most useful branches 
of learning (in the English Tongue) according to the London Method, 
whereby Youth may be qualified for Business by land or Sea." 59 


We have pointed out that the plans for Franklin's academy matured 
while Philadelphia, and, indeed, the colonies at large, were under the 
influence of Whitefield's oratory. The emphasis of the Philadelphia 
program upon oral English may have received its immediate inspira- 
tion from that source. But there was a far-reaching appeal for pub- 
lic speaking of greater significance than the inspiration of any one 
man. This larger appeal runs through the educational treatises which 
both in England and in America led the eighteenth-century move- 
ment for the vernacular. Indeed, the discussion which follows shows 
that the movement to place vernacular on a par with Latin found its 
early strength in two correlated arguments: First, that the cultiva- 
tion of a style for pure speech would assist in formulating, standard- 
izing, and preserving the English tongue; second, that in the new 
world, with its conglomeration of tongues, the schools must make an 
effort to keep the vernacular free from the influence of other lan- 
guages and to establish English as the standard language of the new 

A pretentious elaboration of the first of these arguments is the 
treatise of Thomas Sheridan. His large volume of 534 pages, dedi- 
cated to the Earl of Chesterfield, prime minister and famous orator, 
develops the thesis that a " Revival of the Art of Speaking, and the 
study of our own Language, might contribute to the Cure of that . . . 
Ignorance and False Taste, which so generally prevail." 60 

In his address to Lord Chesterfield, Sheridan says : " The scheme 
is : A design to revive the long- lost art of oratory and to correct, ascer- 
tain, and fix the English Language." 61 In almost every chapter 
Sheridan acknowledges his indebtedness to Milton, Swift, Locke, and 
Addison. Out of the writings of these men Sheridan has judiciously 
extracted those passages which champion the vernacular, especially 
oral instruction in it. 

Two postulates underlie Sheridan's argument: First, the causes 
which stressed Latin and Greek dedicated so vast a portion of time to 

69 S\ C. G., Feb. 13, 1742. 

Gough does not advertise grammar. " Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic in all its 
Branches " are his principal subjects. Before 1750, and, indeed in all the advertisements 
up to 1775, arithmetic in all its branches, as an intensively practical subject, appears 
almost invariably. The appeal of, immediate practicality, found effective in arithmetic, 
gradually creeps into the announcements of English speaking and grammar. 

60 Sheridan, op. cit., title page. 

w Ibid., preface, VI. 


the acquisition of skill in those languages and at the same time the 
pupil's own was totally neglected and no longer of any force. 

The learned languages are no longer the sole repositaries of knowledge; 
. . . the English is become an universal magazine ... of all wisdom. . . . Add 
to -this, that we have many excellent writers of our own, besides, the language 
itself has been so much enlarged and improved. ... To state the account in 
short between our forefathers and us, they shewed great wisdom and good sense 
in making the learned languages the chief study in their days (time of Refor- 
mation) because, however round about the way, knowledge was then to be 
acquired in none other; and because our own, then poor and uncultivated, could 
be in no other way enriched or refined. . . . M 

English is the language most universally read by Englishmen." 

The second postulate is that as yet, say in 1750, English had no 
fixed standard. Sheridan complains of general " bad taste which is 
allowed to prevail," both in writing and speaking, on the part of pub- 
lic men, of " the amazing number of wretched pamphlets," and of 
" those heaps of trash, which are constantly exposed to sale in the 
windows of booksellers, like unripe fruit, greedily devoured by green- 
sickness apetites, and which fill the mind with crudities." Quoting 
Steele, Sheridan says : " I would engage to furnish you with a cata- 
logue of English books . . . within seven years past . . . wherein 
you could not find ten lines together of common grammar or of 
common sense." 64 

Upon these two postulates Sheridan constructs his plea that ora- 
tory fixed the standards of the ancient languages and perpetuated 
them ; that the other nations of Europe — 

the French, Italians, Spaniards, etc., . . . after having enriched and illustrated 
their several languages by the aids and lights borrowed from the Greek and 
Roman, employed the utmost industry to refine, correct, and ascertain (make 
certain) them by fixed and stated rules. . . . The English alone left theirs to the 
power of chance or caprice ; insomuch that it is within a few months that even 
a dictionary has been produced here. 65 Whilst in all the others many excellent 
grammars and dictionaries have long since been published." 

Both the ancients and all moderns but the English studied their 
own languages with respect to what is pure and correct in style and in 

What shall we say to our practice so contrary to that of polished nations . . . 
(we) who take great pains in studying all languages but our own? Who are 
very nice and curious in our choice of preceptors for the ancient and modern 
tongues, yet suffer our children to be vitiated in the very first principles of their 
own. Is it because that the knowledge of our language is so easily acquired, 
that it can scarce be missed? This surely can not be said when it is universally 

02 Ibid., 217-9. 

63 Ibid., 228. 

M Ibid., 227, Tatler IV, No. 230. 

85 This refers to Johnson's Dictionary and fixes the date for Sheridan's first edition. 

86 Ibid., 212-3. 


allowed that there are hardly any who speak or write it correctly. Is it because 
we have less use for it than for any other? 6T 

When we consider that after Greek and Roman languages were brought to a 
standard of perfection, when their youth had the advantage of established 
invariable rules upon which to found their knowledge; of able preceptors to 
instruct and guide them; of the noblest examples and most perfect patterns 
for their instruction ; . . . shall we who have none of their advantages, without 
any pains or application expect to have a competent knowledge of one, which 
in its present state is far more difficult to be learned than theirs? This omis- 
sion in our education ... is wonderful.' 58 

And the supreme means of establishing this uniformity of fixing 
and ascertaining the tongue is, according to Sheridan, the fostering 
of the " ancient art of oratory " ; by this means " our Shakespeare and 
our Milton " will not be suffered " to become two or three centuries 
hence what Chaucer is at present, the study of only a few poring 
antequarians, and in an age or two more victims of bookworms." 
Sheridan completes his argument with the curious fallacy that the 
orators of a nation are its sound philosophers ; that they perpetuate a 
language; that upon them and their art depends the safety of their 
nations. 69 

It is highly significant that Sheridan dedicated his work to Ches- 
terfield, an eloquent orator of his day. Moreover, Chesterfield had 
made a public proposal to the provost and fellows of the University 
of Dublin, while he was viceroy of Ireland, " for the endowment of 
proper lectures and exercises in the Art of Reading and Speaking." T0 

The project failed. In his preface Sheridan comments upon an 
innovation recently made in Eaton by Barnard and at Rugby by 
Markham, by which, " amongst many other good customs . . . pro- 
nunciation and the art of speaking are now made effectual points." 71 
This appears to indicate that the English schools were not many years 
in advance of the American. 

Only one of Sheridan's arguments is likely to have had a strong 
appeal in America. Americans had no literature of their own; they 
were not primarily interested in the establishment of a standard 
style of literature; the appeal for the preservation of the language 
of Shakespeare and Milton was remote from the interests of the new 
land. The main interest of Americans would lie in the substance of 
Sheridan's appeal, not in the reasons for it. He wished to teach ora- 
tory ; he eulogized public speech ; he lauded correct pronunciation and 
fluent oral address. This would appeal especially to Americans, with 
their democratic town meetings, their traditions of pulpit leadership, 
and their necessity of oral communication in general. Moreover, 

" Sheridan, op. cit., 195-196. ■ Ibid., preface, XVII. 

«Ibid., 196-7. "Ibid., XIV. 

"Ibid.. XXIX. 


statesmanship in the local governments and provincial councils was 
the goal of parents for their children. The profession of the law was 
increasing in popularity, and in any and all lines of activity effective 
speech was looked upon as a prime requisite. 

Private schoolmasters were not slow to realize the popularity of 
this appeal. Advertisements of the day are replete with it. For 
example, " The boys learning oratory make orations every fort- 
night " ; 72 "I intend teaching the English language with proper 
accent and emphasis " ; 73 " parents . . . may depend on having their 
children ... diligently instructed in grammatical English, with due 
attention to emphasis, pause, cadence, and puerile declamation " ; 74 
" weekly exercise of reading the English authors with propriety and 
grace " ; 75 " the Boys, as soon as they are capable to be exercised in 
pronouncing Orations " ; 76 " nor will the true pronounciation, the 
proper stops, emphasis, accent and quantity be neglected " ; 77 " Pains 
will be taken to form them early for Public Speaking " ; 78 " Great 
pains are taken to cultivate the Art of Public Speaking, which is 
necessary in order to shine in the Senate, at the bar, or in the pul- 
pit " ; 79 bo}^s who have " a taste and talents for Oratory may be taught 
rhetoric and to pronounce with due action and diction." 80 The first 
advertisement of King's College (Columbia), 1754, added to the 
learned languages " reasoning, writing, and speaking eloquently." 81 

An exact expression of this idea, that neglect of vernacular gram- 
mar caused incorrect speech, which had been taken verbatim from 
Sheridan or paraphrased from him, is found in the announcement of 
William Johnson, who set up an English grammar school on Union 
Street, Charleston, S. C, in 1767. He says : 

It is a common, but too well-grounded complaint that a grammatical study of 
our own language seldom makes any part of the ordinary method of instructing 
youth. ... To this neglect may justly be attributed the great incorrectness of 
speech, observable amongst almost all ranks of people ... to remedy which 
... is the point the proposer has in view. 82 

There was a growing realization that the Nation ought to have one 
common language ; that the best national life could not obtain if Eng- 
lish, German, French, Dutch, Scandinavian languages — not to men- 
tion others — should each remain the speech of a portion of the people. 
Moreover, the mingling of so many tongues must certainly result in 

"Joseph Garner, Pa. G., July 3, 1765. 

78 Mary McAllister, Pa. G., June 4, 1707. 

"John Hefferman, Pa. G., Sept. 14, 1774. 

75 Witherspoon, Princeton, N. J., Pa J., Mar. 2, 1769. 

78 Jacob Giles, Mount Pleasant, Md., Md. G., July 19, 1765. 

77 Grainmaticaster, Pa. G., Oct. 29, 1767. 

78 James Thompson, Charleston, S. C, S. C. G., Dec. 10, 1772. 

79 Somerset Academy, Maryland, Va G., Feb. 23, 1769. 

80 Andrew D'Ellicent, Charlestown, S. C, S. C. G., May 20, 1766. 

81 N. Y. G. and W. P. B., May 31, 1754. 
83 S. C. G., June 15, 1767. 


the corruption of them all, and especially of the dominant one. the 
English. It is certain that this feeling was present in the minds of 
the authorities in the College and Academy of Philadelphia, inas- 
much as Pennsylvania had an exceedingly composite population. In 
1758 Provost Smith, the chief Latinist against whom Franklin 
inveighs, wrote an article, which appeared in the American Magazine 
in October of that year, entitled "Account of the College and Acad- 
emy of Philadelphia." He says : 

■Oratory, correct Speaking and Writing the Mother Tongue is a branch of edu- 
cation too much neglected in all our English Seminaries, as is often visible in 
the public performance of some of our most learned men. But in the circum- 
stances of this province, such a neglect would have been still more inexcusable 
than in any other part of the British dominions. For we are so great a mixture 
of people, from almost all corners of the world, necessarily speaking a variety of 
languages and dialects, that true pronunciation and writing of our own language 
might soon be lost among us without such a previous care to preserve in the 
rising generations. 83 

A schoolmaster of New York, advertising an English grammar 
school in the consistory room of the French church, says : " The Eng- 
lish Grammar, . . . the learning of it being indispensably necessary 
in an English country, I intend to teach to all my scholars." 84 

Benjamin Franklin himself voices this appeal: 

Why should you . . . leave it (America) to be taken by foreigners of all 
nations and languages, who by their numbers may drown and stifle the English 
which otherwise would probably become in the course of two centuries the most 
extensive language in the world. . . ." 

It appears that we have now reached the heart of the primary cause 
which forwarded the study of English grammar. A movement, in 
the words of Sheridan cited above, " to refine, correct, and ascertain 
(make certain) the English language by fixed and stated rules " is 
essentially grammatical. Samuel Johnson's dictionary, and others, 
standardized English diction. Sheridan spoke the truth when he 
said that the English needed " the advantage of established and 
invariable rules " upon which to establish and perpetuate the 

The very prevalence of illiteracy in the public and private speech 
of the eighteenth century demanded the study of grammar. Granted 
that the mother tongue was more useful and less laborious than Latin, 
granted that it was desirable to speak and write well, granted that 
Dil worth, Greenwood, Lowth, and the British Grammar had reduced 
English to w established and invariable rules," it seems to have fol- 
lowed with irresistible logic that the schools must teach English 

"Montgomery, op. cit., 520-9. 

M N. Y. G. and W. P. B., June 5, 1766. 

88 Letter to Wm. Strahan, Passy, Aug. 19, 1785. Sparks, op. cit., II, 131. 

60258°— 22 5 


grammar. Hence we find that every one of the schoolmasters cited 
in a previous paragraph as teaching oratory also taught grammar. 
Are we not safe, then, in saying that English grammar came into 
the curriculum primarily as a result of the popularity of the teaching 
of public speaking and secondarily as the result of a desire to make 
rising generations familiar with " fixed and stated rules"? 

As a corollary, the study of English as a language came as an anti- 
dote for the variety of languages spoken by early settlers, especially 
in the middle colonies. It is perhaps more accurate to say that it was 
an attempt to keep English the dominant language of the new 


Massachusetts and her sister colonies inherited the idea of educa- 
tion for leadership. The grammar schools of England, prototypes of 
the higher schools set up in New England by the laws of 1647 and 
1650, were planned distinctly for an intellectual, educational, and 
political aristocracy. The society from which the first settlers came 
was distinctly a class society. Many of the Pilgrim Fathers and their 
immediate successors from England came from the smaller landed 
gentry in the mother country. Moreover, the first settlers, although 
apparently possessing a democratic form of government, character- 
ized in local affairs by the town meeting, were in reality controlled by 
a relatively small group of leaders. These men, as we have seen, were 
clergymen, but their authority and influence extended over almost 
every aspect of life. To perpetuate this leadership Harvard College 
was founded only eight years after the settling of Massachusetts Bay. 
To the college, with its inherited curriculum of the classics, must be 
sent the more promising youth, prepared either under the private 
tutorship of some clergyman or in a suitable school. This is the origin 
of the grammar school in America. 

Given a grammar school, some means must be provided for the 
preliminary education considered necessary for entrance. This was 
provided either by dame schools or by the reading schools or by gram- 
mar schools. Along with this idea of higher education for leadership 
there existed a second idea. This was that all citizens must be taught 
to read the Scriptures and to understand the capital laws of the 
country. The idea of universal education grew out of a combination 
of these two purposes. Briefly, universal education in 1650 meant 
universal ability to read, possibly to write and cipher, and widespread 
opportunity to train leaders. • 

By the middle of the next century a somewhat different idea of 
universal education was dawning. Various causes had reduced the 
importance of religious leaders. The rough life of the new continent 



d brought out native qualities of leadership, undeveloped by educa- 
tion. The ancient classics did not hew the forests, blaze pathways 
into the wilderness, nor fight back Indians. A Benjamin Franklin, 
forced at 13 to forego the higher schools of Boston, by sheer native 
merit had made himself an influential man. Many lesser Franklins 
had raised themselves in various settlements. Just as on the Ameri- 
can frontiers of the early nineteenth century a vigorous and robust 
democracy seemed to produce and develop Jacksons and Lincolns, so 
100 years earlier kindred causes were at work in New York, Penn- 
sylvania, Maryland, and the rest. No longer did it count primarily 
what a man knew. What he could do was far more important. In 
short, after 1650, 100 years of frontier life had demonstrated that 

i suitable leaders were forthcoming in all aspects of life, except possibly 

! the ministry, irrespective of a classical education. 

If this be true, when the frontiersmen of the eighteenth century 
found themselves victors in the first severe struggle with privations 
and established in somewhat settled communities, they began again 
to think of education. 86 Their uncouth manners and dress were like 
their intellectual life and their speech — strong, but coarse. A desire 
for refinement grew apace, if not for themselves, at least for their 
children. In addition, new professions and occupations came into 
prominence as the communities became more stable. All these newer 
professions were the outgrowth of the new country itself, and, like 
the needs which called them forth, they were practical, everyday 
man-to-man occupations. Still further, as always in a new land, 
statesmanship offered an attractive field. 

All of these causes had grown out of the soil. Unschooled men 
controlled public opinion. This type of society, living intensely in 
the present, both ignorant and scornful of the past, craved an educa- 
tion that would furnish direct help in everyday life. A vernacular 
education of a higher order than reading and writing, including the 
r practical branches of mathematics," the modern languages, history, 
geography, and, above all, a mastery of the English tongue, was the 
outcome. In short, the ideal of universal education retained in 1750 
its central idea of 1650- — equal opportunity for all ; but there had come 
in a noteworthy enlargement of it. In 1750 no American was pre- 
destined for a high rank in life; out of the masses themselves were 
to come the leaders; a practical education for all was to open the way. 
On the crest of this wave the mother tongue was carried to the fore- 
most place in American education. 

••Franklin, Autobiography, 177. 



Several lines of investigation have been advanced to enable us to 
answer the questions : When, where, why, and by whom English gram- 
mar made its first appearance in the curricula of American schools. 
Conclusions reached are as follows: 

1. Textbooks in English grammar do not seem to have been 
imported until about 1750. Dil worth's was published in England in 
1740 and had its first American reprint in 1747. 87 

Dilworth's was introduced primarily as a speller. After 1750 there 
is considerable evidence that Greenwood's and several other British 
grammars made their way into the colonies. 

2. There were at least two grammars written and published in 
America before the [Revolution — Johnson's and Byerley's. Consid- 
ering the rush of American texts in grammar after 1784, 88 this early 
scarcity is strong negative evidence to the effect that attention to 
grammar was relatively insignificant before the appearance of Web- 
ster's first book in 1784. In addition, seven grammars by English 
authors were reprinted in America before 1784. Our estimate places 
the number of texts before Webster's, both native and imported, at 10. 
Of these Dilworth's was the only one available for the schools in 
large numbers. Dilworth's " New Guide," although primarily a 
speller, deserves the name of the first American textbook in English 

3. A respectable number of private schools, of which we have men- 
tioned 60, some of them called English grammar schools, were offer- 
ing courses in " English, as a language " by 1775. These schools began 
to appear before 1750 ; they were most numerous in the middle colonies, 
in the regions neighboring to Philadelphia Academy, where Frank- 
lin's program of the vernacular struck a plane never reached before. 
The New England colonies, with the classics more firmly intrenched, 
resisted the innovation for two decades after the middle colonies had 
adopted it. 

4. A careful consideration of Franklin's plan leads to the conclu- 
sion that this English school, preceding any general importation or 
publication in America of textbooks in grammar, deserves the honor 
of setting a positive example of a full vernacular program of secon- 
dary grade and of being imitated by masters tired of the old type of 
schools. Therefore the year 1750 is selected as the date when the 
higher branches of the vernacular, including grammar, entered seri- 
ously into American education. To Benjamin Franklin, in this, as in 
many other respects, America owes a debt of gratitude. As his experi- 
ments in science antedated by decades general school instruction in 

87 Wickersham, in Pennsylvania, is in error in assigning this date as 1757. Wickersham, 
Hist, of Ed. in Pa., 197. 

88 See Chap. IV, p. 80. 


.them, so his experiment in vernacular education was more serviceable 
as an example and a model than as an actual accomplishment. 

5. Representative curricula of colleges and secondary schools show- 
ing the earliest appearances of grammar are in accord with the infer- 
ences reached above. Before 1750 curricula do not show grammar. 
After 1750 to 1790 first, private schools ; second, colleges ; third, pub- 
lic schools, seem to have followed Franklin's lead. In fact, the col- 
onies effected the independence of their schools and colleges from the 
exclusive hold of the classics contemporaneously with their political 
independence. 89 The latter separation was itself not a sharp breaking 
off ; similarly the struggle for the supremacy of the vernacular as the 
supreme study in the schools was long protracted. The traditions of 
Latinized instruction, which almost routed Franklin's English pro- 
gram, although they could no longer keep the vernacular in the back- 
ground throughout the Nation at large, now did the next best thing — ■ 
they Latinized the methods of teaching English grammar. To a 
discussion of this Latinizing process in methods we now turn. If the 
entrance of grammar was an arduous struggle, its emancipation from 
Latin methods was little short of a titanic one. 

6. In answer, then, to the question, When ? the answer is 1750, with 
due reservation for a few obscure earlier efforts. Where? In the 
middle colonies, headed by Pennsylvania. Why? As the core study 
of an English program to supplant the classical program for students 
fitting for practical life. By whom? By Hugh Jones, the first 
American grammarian ; by Waterland, who first taught grammar in 
an American school; by Franklin, who projected the model English 
program ; by William Samuel Johnson, first president of Columbia, 
the first American to write a grammar published in America and the 
first college official to put English on a par with the classics in a 
college curriculum. 

This is a far cry from the credit which has hitherto been awarded 
to Noah Webster and New England. 

89 Brown in his " Making of Our Middle Schools " states that the growth of nationalism 
and national literature had little effect on the schools ; that " it took the Romantic Move- 
ment and the American and French Revolutions to give the mother tongue an assured 
position in the program of instruction." Mid. Sch., 188. To the present writer this 
appears to be only a part of the truth ; it is possibly a post hoc ergo propter hoc. It 
seems more accurate to say that in America all revolutions, political, educational, and 
possibly religious, were largely due to the same fundamental causes. In each there is 
revolt against outside authority, revolt against established traditions, and a determina- 
tion that the individual and the nation have a right to live, not in the past but in the 
future, a vital, active, aggressive life. 

Chapter IV. 

The period immediately after the Revolution marks the well-nigh 
universal adoption of English into the curricula of American school 
Earlier sections have indicated that the time was ripe. Many success 
ful experiments had been made in private schools; the Latin cur 
riculum, with its apparent unfitness for the intensely practical life of 
the new continent, was becoming more and more unpopular; for a 
considerable number of years colleges had been teaching grammar, 
composition, and oratory. In fine, irrespective of the Revolution, the 
time had arrived when a rapid spread of the subject was to be 
expected. And just as the new national life of England in the six- 
teenth century, with the accompanying pride in its self-sufficiency, 
brought forth a vigorous demand for the vernacular, so the national 
independence of America cooperated powerfully with other causes in 
transferring generally to the public schools the higher branches of 
the vernacular. The fact is that increased attention to the English 
language is the most significant change that occurred in the curricula 
of the schools after the States began to recover from the turmoil and 
disruption of war. 


The entire history of education in New England up to the end of 
the eighteenth century seems to have been preparing the way for the 
laws which, shortly after the Revolution, placed English in the cur- 
riculum and almost, if not quite, on a par with Latin. The Latin 
curriculum especially was increasingly unpopular. Massachusetts, 
Connecticut, and New Hampshire each passed a series of laws with 
increasing fines for failure to keep open the prescribed schools, 90 indi- 
cating a failure of school spirit in New England. 91 This w T as referred 

90 In 1647 Massachusetts levied a fine of £5 (Rec. Co. Mass. Bay, II, 203) ; in 1671 the 
fine was increased to £10 (ibid., IV, second vol., 486) ; in 1683 towns of 200 families were 
fined £20 (ibid., V, 414) ; in 1692 the fine for failure to keep an elementary school was 
increased to £10, but the penalty for a grammar school was not altered (Acts and Res. 
Pro. Mass. Bay, 1, 63) ; in 1701 the fine was imposed on towns proportionally for the time 
they were delinquent (ibid., 470) ; and in 171S the fine was increased to £20 for towns of 
150 families, £40 for towns of 200 families and £50 for towns of 250 families (ibid., II, 

The series of increasing fines in Connecticut begins in 1650 (Rec. Col. Conn., 1, 521) 
and continues in 1677 (ibid., II, 307-8), in 1678 (ibid., Ill, 9), and 1700 (ibid., IV, 331). 

For New Hampshire see Laws of New. Hampshire, Prov. Period, I, 561, 337, 358. 

n Martin, Evolution of Mass. Sen. Sys., 85. 



to in the election sermon of 1762 by Rev. Thomas Shephard, in which 
he laments especially the decay of the Latin schools preparatory for 
Harvard. 92 While it is true that some of these laws fined towns for 
failing to support English schools, the main inference is that the 
Latin schools, set up under the early laws by a university generation, 
were too advanced for primitive communities successfully to maintain 
in operation. 

This being the case, many towns found that the best way to com- 
ply with the requirements for both Latin and elementary schools was 
to combine them ; that is, to provide a schoolmaster qualified to give 
instruction in both the classics and the elementary branches of the 
vernacular. Records of so-called grammar schools in many towns 
indicate that this combination was effected. For example, Salem in 
1677 " agreed with Mr. Eppes to teach all such scholars ... in y* 
English, Latin and Greek Tongue " ; 93 Nearly 100 years later, in 
1752, the same town found it necessary to vote that each of the boys 
u who go to the grammar school must study Latin as well as read and 
write and cypher." 94 In 1691 Cambridge voted to engage a school- 
master " to teach both latten and english and to write and sipher," 95 
and in 1679 Watertown agreed with Richard Norcros to teach for 
three months only " Iattin schollurs and writturs . . . and the other 
8 munths . . . both Iattin and inglish schollurs." 96 Other towns 
showing the combination of Latin and English schools were Dedham, 
1667; 97 Plymouth, 1725 ; 98 and Braintree, 1690, which provided 

n Felt, Ann. of Salem, 433. 

M Relation between the Latin and the English program is interestingly shown in the 
history of the schools of Salem. In 1667 records of the town show one school for both 
branches (Felt, op. cit., 434) ; in 1713 there were separate schools called the English and 
the Latin schools (ibid., 442) ; in 1743 the town voted to combine the two under a master 
and an usher (ibid., 447) ; this act was revoked three years later, 1746 (ibid.). In 1752 
the town was compelled to justify the existence of a Latin-grammar school by a special 
act requiring that every boy, a pupil there, must study Latin as well as reading, writing, 
and arithmetic (ibid., 448). In 1796, as a natural consequence of the unpopularity of 
Latin manifested in the preceding order, for the first time the records show the English 
master made a peer of the Latin master both in title and salary. The town voted that 
each English master have a salary of £150 and "find ink" and that the Latin master 
have £130 (ibid., 456). In 1801 notice is published that writing, arithmetic, English 
grammar, composition, and geography are to be taught in the grammar school besides 
Latin and Greek (ibid., 458). In other words, the Latin-grammar school is now made 
over into an English school, with the classics secondary. It is curious to find that in 
Salem English grammar was not added to the curricula of the English schools, although, 
as we have seen, it was added to the grammar school in 1801. In 1816 this provision 
was made also for the English schools to supply " a grammatical acquaintance with their 
native tongue" (ibid., 464), and finally, in 1827, the Latin and the English high schools 
of the town appear to be on a par (ibid., 474). This struggle of the two programs in 
Salem is suggestive of what may have taken place in many other towns in the course of 
150 years. 

M Ibid., 448. 

95 Rec. Town Cambridge, 1630-1703, II, 296. 

96 Watertown Rec, I, 137. 

OT Rec. Town Dedham, 1659-73, 133. 

M Rec. Town Plymouth, II, 232. 


" Master to be agreed with as will be willing to Teach english as well 
as Latten, and also to Teach wrighting and Cyphering." " 

Both the legislative efforts to compel towns to maintain Latin 
schools and the efforts of the towns themselves to stress the vernacular 
rather than the Latin indicate a leaning toward the State laws which, 
in the decades .immediately following the Revolution, gave English 
an equal legal standing with the classics. These laws may be said to 
fructify the tendencies of the previous 150 years. The makers of the 
Massachusetts law of 1789 and corresponding laws of other States, 
which will be cited, realized that a renewal of educational enthusiasm 
must center around the national tongue, eloquent testimony to the 
fact that the study of English " as a language " had advanced very 
rapidly since its first feeble beginnings. 

In 1789 Massachusetts required that " every town . . . containing 
two hundred families . . . shall be provided with a grammar school 
master . . . well instructed in the Latin, Greek and English Lan- 
guages." This school was to be kept for 12 months. Every town of 
150 families was to keep a similar school six months ; every town of 
100 families, an English school for 12 months; every town of 50 
families, an English school for six months ; that is, " every town . . . 
containing fifty families . . . shall be provided with a schoolmaster 
... to teach children to read and write and to instruct them in the 
English language, as well as in arithmetic, orthography, and decent 
behavior." * Moreover, the statute allows selectmen to maintain 
mixed schools if they prefer. This, for example, is what Braintree 
did in 1790. 2 

Martin points out that by this act 120 towns out of 270 in Massa- 
chusetts were relieved of the necessity of keeping a Latin school. 3 In 
1825 Massachusetts relieved all towns of less than 5,000 inhabitants of 
the Latin school. 4 In short, between 1789 and 1825 compulsory Latin- 
grammar education may be said to have passed ; English schools, with 
the English curriculum, including English grammar, had been 

Boston, pursuant to the law of 1789, completely reorganized her 
schools. A manuscript copy of " The System of Public Education," 
bearing the signature of John Scollay, chairman of the board of 
selectmen, under date December 1, 1789, was in the possession of 
jenks when he wrote his " Sketch of the Boston Latin School." This 
manuscript indicates how prominent a place was assigned to the vari- 
ous branches of the vernacular in the Boston schools. The center of 
the system was a classical grammar school, for entrance to which two 

w Braintree Town Rec., 1640-1693, 598. 
1 Perpet. Laws of Com. Mass., 1799, II, 39. 
8 Braintree Town Rec, 1640-1793, 598. 
•Martin, Ev. of Mass. Sen. Sys., 85. 
4 Laws of Com. of Mass., X, 558. 


prerequisites are indicated. The boy must have reached the age of 10 
years and must have been " previously well instructed in English 
Grammar." In addition, there were three writing schools and three 
reading schools, in which children of both sexes were to be taught to 
" spell, accent, and read both prose and poetry, and also be instructed 
in English Grammar and Composition." In the reading schools 
textbooks include the Holy Bible, Webster's Spelling Book, The 
Young Ladies Accidence (Caleb Bingham's elementary grammar), 
and Webster's American Selections. It is also ordered that " the 
upper Class in the Reading Schools be instructed in Epistolary 
Writing and other Composition." 5 

It is not asserted here that the Massachusetts law of 1789 made 
' English grammar compulsory, 6 but that this law, as those of several 
other States, was enacted in response to a demand for increased atten- 
tion to vernacular instruction. In Massachusetts English grammar 
was specified in the law of 1835. r 

The Vermont laws of 1797 and 1810, while they do not mention 
grammar, do nevertheless stress the vernacular. 8 Virginia in 1796 
enacted a similar statute, 9 and Delaware, in 1796, defines a " good 
English Education," prescribing " the English language, arithmetic, 
and other such branches of knowledge as are most useful and neces- 
sary in completing a good English education." 10 The regents of the 
University of the State of New York, in 1793, in a report to the legis- 
lature say : " We can not help suggesting . . . the numerous advan- 
tages that would accrue . . . from the institution of schools . . . for 
reading their native tongue with propriety . . . writing . . . arith- 
metic. . . - 11 The ultimate effect of these laws was, of course, to stress 
grammar together with the other " senior branches " 12 of English. 
However, the effect of the universal turning to the vernacular, as it 
bore particularly upon grammar, may be seen better in certain State 
laws contemporary with the Massachusetts law which specifically 
mention the subject. 

The first State legislation to speak definitely of grammar appears 
to have been the New York law of 1797, which provided " for main- 
taining one or more free schools in the city of New York, in which 
Scholars shall be instructed in the English Language, or be taught 
reading, writing, the English grammar, arithmetic, mathematics, and 

B Jenks, Cat. and His. Sketch Boston Latin School, 286 ; original document printed 
in full. 

6 Corey makes this mistake. Hist. Maiden, 631. 

T Rev. Stat. Mass., chap. 23, sec. 1. 

8 Laws State Vt., Wright, 1808, I, 181 ; ibid., Fay Davidson and Burt, 1817, III, 236. 

• Stat, at Large of Va., Shepard, 1835, III, 5. 

10 Laws State Delaware, S. and J. Adams, 1797, II, 1298. 

11 Hist, and Sta. Rec. of the Univ. of N. Y., Hough, 66. 

"This suggestive phrase is used in the charter for Potosi Academy, Mo., 1817. Lawa 
Dist. Louisiana, etc., 1804-1824, Lush & Son, I, 519. 


such other branches as are most useful and necessary to complete a 
good English education." 1S 

By 1827 the legislature, acting on repeated recommendations of the" 
regents, was ready to pass the law making academies training schools 
for teachers. The law of that year includes this declaration : 

No student shall be deemed to have pursued the higher branches of an English 
Education unless he shall have advanced beyond such Knowledge of common 
vulgar and decimal arithmetic, and such proficiency in English grammar and 
geography as are usually obtained in common schools. 14 

The first State-wide act definitely prescribing grammar seems to 
have been the 1798 law of Connecticut : 

Enacted, That any School Society shall have liberty ... to institute a School 
of higher order ... to perfect the Youth ... in Reading and Penmanship, to 
instruct them in the Rudiments of English-Grammar, in Composition, in Arith- 
metic and Geography, or, on particular desire, in the Latin and Greek Lan- 
guages, also in the first principles of Religion and Morality, and in general to 
form them for usefulness and happiness in the various relations of social life. 15 

It is significant to note here that Noah Webster's grammars were 
being published in Hartford between 1784 and 1790. The State law 
of 1790 16 had retained the compulsory grammar schools in county 
towns; but the law of 1798 abolished this obligation and gave any 
school society the right to substitute, on a vote of two-thirds of the 
inhabitants, English schools of a " higher order." Noteworthy, too, 
is the suggestive phrase at the end of the law of 1798 — " in general to 
form them (the pupils) for usefulness and happiness in the various 
relations of social life." All these considerations indicate that in the 
lawmakers' minds must have been a conviction that the traditional 
curriculum must go, that schools of higher order must be retained, but 
that in the nature of English schools grammar and composition were 
the vernacular branches of the " senior ".order, and, finally, that use- 
fulness and happiness in everyday life for all and not for a few 
highly educated individuals was the supreme purpose of the new 
English education. Brown very fittingly characterizes this revolution 
in the curriculum at the end of the century as coming in response " to 
the chaotic desire to study the vernacular " and prefaces that expres- 
sive characterization by affirming that " in the study of English gram- 
mar a means was found for giving vent " to this desire. 17 

The legislation of New Hampshire is especially enlightening con- 
cerning the status of grammar. The first educational law after the 
Kevolution, repealing all previous acts, provided funds, in 1789, 
which — 

"Laws State N. Y., 1797 to 1800, inclusive, IV, 42-3. 

"Laws State N. Y., Croswell, 1827, 237. 

15 Acts and Laws Conn., Hudson and Goodwin, 1796, 1802 edition, 483. 

"Ibid., 373. 

f Brown, Mak. of Mid. Sen., 234. 


shall be applied for the sole purpose of keeping an English Grammar School 
. . . for teaching reading, writing and arithmetic, except in shire and half shire 
towns, in which the school by them kept shall be a Grammar School for the 
purpose of teaching the Latin and Greek. 18 

This statute uses the term English grammar school, meaning merely 
an English secondary school, not a school based on English grammar. 
But it implied an effort to raise the English school to a higher dignity 
than before, placing it in title at least on the same footing with the 
Latin-grammar school. Obviously the real difficulty here is that the 
lower branches of the vernacular do not possess the substance to 
present the same drill in an English-grammar school as in a Latin. 
In order to make the curriculum somewhat analogous and to justify 
the claim of equal dignity, the higher branches of the vernacular — 
grammar and composition — would be the next logical advance for the 
English-grammar schools. 

This step was taken by New Hampshire several years later, in the 
law of 1808, ordering an extension of the curriculum of the English 
school, and, what is even more significant, dropping the provision for 
Latin schools in shire, and half shire towns " for the sole purpose of 
keeping an English school . . . for teaching the various sounds and 
powers of the letters of the English Language, reading, writing, 
English Grammar, arithmetic, geography, and such other branches 
of education as it may be necessary to teach in an English School." 19 
To be noted here is the fact that most of the English grammars of 
the day, of which by 1808 there were at least 49 20 published or used 
in America, had orthography as their first section, usually defined as 
" the various sounds and powers of the letters." This phrase in the 
law, then, with the term English grammar, is certain proof of the 
legal sanction of this branch in a secondary school which was clearly 
intended to supplant the Latin school. 

The law of 1808 goes still further. It provides that " no person is 
qualified to teach unless he or she procure a certificate from some able 
and reputable English Grammar school-master." 21 For schoolmis- 
tresses it is demanded that " the literary qualifications of schoolmis- 
tresses be required to extend no further than that they are able to 
teach the various sounds and powers of the letters in the English 
Language, reading, writing and English Grammar." 22 It is clearly 
shown by the specifications concerning schoolmistresses that English 
grammar was prescribed for elementary schools. Ultimately gram- 
mar was placed in schools in almost all parts of the country which 
were neither elementary nor secondary, but distinguished by the name 

18 Laws State of N. H., Melcher, 1792, 276. 

19 Laws State of N. H., Norris, 1815, 368. 

30 A list of grammars was compiled but has been omitted in this publication. 
» Ibid., 368. 
22 Ibid., 369. 


" grammar school." 23 As indicated above, it is quite often impossible 
to determine whether a legal enactment follows or precedes the gen- 
eral adoption of a subject into the curriculum. However; the general 
absence of textbooks before 1790 24 makes it appear that the public 
schools at least could not have attempted grammar very generally 
before that date. But the private schools, as we have seen, were turn- 
ing more and more to the English curriculum, following the tendency 
seen in its beginnings between 1750 and 1775. Not infrequently dur- 
ing the two decades before 1800 references are made in various acad- 
emies to " Professors of English." 25 


In the laws of two centuries there is discernible a marked tendency 
toward the gradual elimination of a classical education. Geography 
and history, with the feeble beginnings of science, were receiving a 
little attention ; but around the English branches, especially grammar 
and oral composition in the form of oratory, the new curriculum was 
in formation. With the passing of Latin, seeming to many unrelated 
to " usefulness and happiness in the various relations of social life," 
there was left little language study suitable for any but the most ele- 
mentary instruction. In the Latin school the backbone of the course 

23 It does not appear that many States specifically mention the incorporation of gram- 
mar by State law in their curricula. The Louisiana law of 1826 placed in the primary 
schools of New Orleans " a professor " to teach " the elements of the English and French 
grammar." New Digest Stat. Laws of Louisiana, Bullard and Curry, 1842, I, 374. In 
1834 Maine followed the usual practice of the day by providing that " no person shall be 
employed as a schoolmaster . . . unless . . . well qualified to instruct youth in reading 
and writing the English Language grammatically." Rev. Stat. State of Me., Smith & Co., 
1841, 169. The law makes the same requirement for schoolmistresses. Ibid. 

24 Chap. IV, p. 77. 

25 A case in point is the Delaware Academy of Wilmington, primarily a classical school, 
which as early as 1786 had a " Professor of English." An extract from the curriculum 
shows " English, Lowth's Grammar, Blair's Lectures in Rhetoric," and even " the higher 
English classics frequently employed in exercises and compositions." References like this 
to English classics before 1800 are extremely rare. Powell, Hist, of Ed. in Del., 45. 

The grammar school of Brown University, in 1786, advertised " Greek, Latin and Eng- 
lish Languages taught grammatically." Tolman, Hist, of Ed. in R. I., 35. 

Apparently the best way to interpret an expression like this is to believe that gram- 
matical instruction in the English language stands in exactly the same relation as gram- 
matical instruction in the classical languages. 

The Trenton, N. J., grammar school, in 1789, gave a certificate under the seal of the 
corporation " to such scholars as shall have studied the English language grammatically." 
In 1792 the price of tuition was put at $3 a quarter " for the English School and English 
Grammar," and in 1817 the trustees recommended the use of " Lindley Murray's system 
of teaching the English Language." Murray, Hist, of Ed. in N. J., 126. 

A suggestive item indicating the way in which grammar spread is found in the story of 
John Howland, father of the movement for public schools in Rhode Island. Appointed by 
the city of Providence to draw up rules for the first schools established under the new 
law, 1789, he went to Boston and there procured a copy of the rules establishing the 
new school system of 1789 and secured also a list of the textbooks used under that 
act. Howland says : " Up to this time I had never seen a grammar . . . but observing 
The Young Ladies Accidence (Caleb Bingham's elementary grammar, Boston, 1785) was 
used in the Boston schools, I sent to the principal bookseller in that town, and procured 
one hundred copies for ours. The introduction of Grammar was quite an advance in the 
system of education as it was not taught at all except in the better class of private 
ichools." Powell, Hist, of Pub. Sch. Sys. in R. L. 17. 


had been grammar; the term grammar, the methods of teaching gram- 
mar, were ingrained. Latin grammar had stood for the next step 
above reading and writing the vernacular. When, therefore, the 
advocates of a practical English training found English grammar in 
Dilworth and other texts, what was more natural than that they 
should seize upon it as a suitable substitute for the next step above 
reading and writing and spelling ? English they found reduced to the 
same accidence as Latin; English rules were to be learned as the 
Latin ; textbooks informed them on title pages that grammar was the 
art of speaking and writing the English language correctly, and this 
was their laudable desire for their children ; here is a suitable setting 
in the vernacular program for grammar as the basic study. This 
conviction made its way into legal sanction for English and English 
grammar in the last decade of the eighteenth century. 


In the preceding chapter the number of textbooks available for 
instruction in grammar before 1784 was shown to have been very 
insignificant. With the exception of Dilworth's, primarily a speller, 
certainly no single book was available in a large number of copies. 
Therefore nothing is more effective in establishing the rapidly rising 
popularity of the new subject after the Revolution than the flood of 
grammatical textbooks which began to pour from the American press. 

Even before the State laws at the end of the century paved the way 
for a higher order of instruction in English these textbooks in gram- 
mar began to appear. It is significant that in 1783 Xoah Webster, the 
dean of American textbook writers, opened in Hartford, Conn., a 
rhetorical school for the express purpose of teaching the English 
language. It was here that he laid the foundation for his first gram- 
mar, Part II of " The Grammatical Institute of the English Lan- 
guage." 26 In Hartford also was framed, in 1799, the first State-wide 
act specifically mentioning instruction in " the rudiments of English 
Grammar." It is significant that this was the exact wording of the 
subtitle of Webster's second grammar, published in 1790, " The Little 
Reader's Assistant. Rudiments of English Grammar, Being an intro- 
duction to the Second Part of The Grammatical Institute." This, too, 
was published in Hartford. 27 Of course, there is no certainty of 
causal relation between Webster's instruction and his books and the 
Connecticut law of 1798. 

However that may be, Webster's " Plain and Comprehensive Gram- 
mar," of 1784, was the first American textbook on the subject to attain 

27 Evans, op. cit., 8, 105. 

28 Love, Col. Hist. Hartford, 270. 


wide circulation. Before 1792 it had passed through at least 10 edi- 
tions. 28 By 1807 29 this book, together with his three other treatises 
on grammar, although by far less popular than his " Grammatical 
Institute," enjoyed a wide circulation before Murray appeared in 1795. 
Webster's success appears to have attracted other American writers 
into the field at once, since at least 17 other works on grammar 
appeared before 1795. 30 

Eleven of these 17 textbooks were unsuccessful, apparently none of 
them enjoying more than two or three editions, including Kenrick's, 
1784; Mennye's, 1785; Anonymous, 1789 (3d ed.) ; Ussher's, 1790; 
Hutchins's, 1791 ; Humphries's, 1792 ; Tichnor's, 1792 ; Miller's, 1795 ; 
Carroll's, 1795 ; and Dearborn's, 1795. Of the 17, two were Webster's 
books mentioned above — " The Rudiments," 1790, and " The Young 
Gentleman and Ladies Accidence," 1792. Harrison's, 1787, was an 
English text reprinted in Philadelphia 31 and in its ninth American 
edition before 1812 ; Ussher's, 1790, was also an American edition of 
a London book of 1787 32 and had its third American edition in 
Exeter, N. H., in 1804. 33 

Of the 17 books antedating Murray's (between 1784 and 1795) there 
remain two which attained relatively wide use in American schools 
before Murray's grammars appeared. Of these, the less important 
was Caleb Alexander's "A Grammatical System of the English Lan- 
guage," Boston, 1792. It passed through at least 10 editions before 
1814. 3 * 

Bingham's little elementary book of 45 pages appeared in Boston 
in 1785 and in a very few years leaped into popularity in that city 
and elsewhere. It was printed in at least 20 editions before 1815 ; 35 
100,000 copies were sold. 

28 Webster says-: "I published a grammar on the model of Lowth's ; . . . this work 
passed through many editions before Murray's book appeared. ... I determined to sup- 
press my grammar ; . . . a new work appeared in 1807." Webster's Dictionary, 1828, 
preface, 3. Of this book Evans lists 10 editions before 1792, the first in 1784 (Evans, 6, 
837), the last in 1792 (ibid., 8, 382). The number of editions was large. The writer, for 
example, is using the sixth Connecticut edition, 1800, and the book was published by firms 
in both Boston and Philadelphia, 1790 and 1787, respectively. Evans, S, 104, and ibid., 
7, 183. In both places there were several editions before 1800. 

29 Webster's second grammar, " The Rudiments," 1790, passed through six editions in 
the first two years, in Hartford, Albany, Boston, and Northampton. Evans, op. cit., 8, 
105 ; 8, 233. His third book appeared in 1792, published anonymously under the title 
" The Young Gentleman and Ladies Accidence, a Comprehentious Grammar of the English 
Tongue," in Boston. The 1807 text was "A Philosophical and Practical Grammar." His 
last grammatical treatise appeared as late as the year 1831, "An Improved Grammar of 
the English Tongue," Barnard, Am. J. of Ed., XV, 569. 

30 See Appendix A. 

31 Evans, op. cit., 7, 121. 
38 Ibid., 8, 98. 

33 Am. Jour, of Ed., XV, 565. 
3 * Ibid., XIII, 212 ; Evans, op. cit., 8, 242. 

35 Ibid., 218. The writer uses the nineteenth edition, Boston, 1813 ; the name Martha 
Stebbins appears on the flyleaf. 


Bingham, a graduate of Dartmouth, 1782, had opened a private 
school for girls in Boston in 1781 and had there begun what has been 
called the first pretentious effort to teach English grammar in that 
city. 36 This statement ignores the earlier efforts to teach grammar, 
some of which, as we saw above, antedated 1775, either through ignor- 
ance of their existence or because they were insignificant as compared 
with Bingham's. At any rate, " The Young Ladies Accidence." was 
the result of Bingham's work in this school. It is interesting to 
remember that Xoah Webster published anonymously in Boston, in 
1790, an elementary book of approximately the same size as Bing- 
ham's under the name " The Young Gentleman and Ladies Acci- 
dence." Bingham, in 1789. accepted a position in the reorganization of 
the Boston schools, 37 and his grammar was adopted by vote of the 
board as the official text in the writing schools. 38 

Of Webster and Bingham, William B. Fowle, editor of the Com- 
mon School Journal, says: 

No two men ever exercised more influence over the schools of this country. 
. . . Webster's Grammar was but little used compared with Bingham's; but his 
spelling book was far more extensively used. . . . The two authors divided the 
field between them.** 

Neglecting now the reproduction of grammars which we have 
mentioned as preceding 1784, we find 17 entirely new books in the 
field appearing in America before Murray's was introduced. Of these 
17 certainly no fewer than 50 editions had been published within the 
decade before 1795. We may conclude, first, that the impending flood 
of grammars had begun to appear, and, second, that Brown is in 
error in maintaining that " Linclley Murray's Grammar, published 
in 1795, gave the first definite direction to this department of study." 40 

But the grammars of Webster, Bingham, and the rest were insig- 
nificant in their influence compared with the unexampled popularity 
of Lindley Murray's, beginning shortly after 1795. This is the Lind- 
ley Murray whom we saw as a boy enrolled in the English school of 
the Academy and Charity School of Philadelphia in 1754. 41 On 
both sides of the Atlantic this man's productions were reprinted liter- 
ally hundreds of times and were copied and abridged at least a score 
of times by other authors. His most famous text was u English Gram- 
mar, Adapted to the Different Classes of Learners," York, England, 
1795. 42 He also prepared an "Abridgement of English Grammar," 

38 Wm, B. Fowle, Barnard's Am. Teachers and Ed., 70. 
• T Ibid., 57. 

^.Tenks, op. cit., 228. 

39 C. S. J., 1850, 74. 

<° Brown, op. cit., 234. 
" See Chap. Ill, p. 54. 
*» Barnard, op. cit., XV, 775. 


1797 ; "An English Grammar, in Two Volumes," 1814, 2d edition ; and 
" English Exercises," published first before 1802. 43 

An 1812 edition of the first book asserts that 35,000 copies of his 
larger book and 50,000 of his "Abridgement " were being sold 
annually in America. In 11 years the " English Grammar " passed 
through 21 editions in England and twice that number in America, 
while, the "Abridgement " had had 20 editions in England and 30 in 
America. Murray's " English Exercises " were published frequently, 
and his larger grammar had its fifth edition in New York in 1823.** 
The larger books w T ere adopted by many of the colleges in both 
countries. It is asserted that his grammatical texts totaled over 120 
editions of 10,000 copies each on the average ; that more than 1,000,000 
copies of his books were sold in America before 1850. 45 

But Murray's influence can not be estimated by his own books 
alone. At least 12 men prepared and published editions or abridg- 
ments of his various works. Among them may be mentioned Bullard 
1.797, tenth edition, by 1817; Flint, 1807, sixth edition, by 1826; Lyon 
1811, fourteenth edition, by 1821 ; Pond, 1829, eighth edition, by 1836 
Alger, 1824, fourth edition, by 1846; Fisk, 1821, third edition, by 1824 
In this list are included also Russell, 1819 ; Booth, 1819 ; Cooper, 1828 
Putnam, 1825 ; Miller, 1823 ; Blair, 1831 ; Bacon, 18l8 ; and Cheesman, 
1821, third edition. 46 In other words, a very conservative estimate of 
the total number of Murray's grammars, including his own and his 
followers' before 1850, is 200 editions, totaling between 1,500,000 and 
2,000,000 copies. 

Some idea of the rapid rise of grammar after 1784 may be gained 
by examining the distribution of the 301 grammars written by Ameri- 
cans and printed in America before 1850. 47 Distributed 'by decades 
they are: .1760-1770, 1; 1771-1780, 5; 1781-1790, 9; 1791-1800, 18; 
1801-1810, 14; 1811-1820, 41; 1821-1830, 84; 1831-1840, 63; 1841- 
1850,66; total, 301. 48 

It is to be remembered that each unit in the foregoing represents a 
new author or an entirely new book by an earlier author. As in the 
case of the Murray grammars, we have seen the very large number of 
editions issued. In other words, during the decade 1821-1830, in 
addition to the 84 new books, many of which were printed several 
times, there were also published at the same time a very large number 
of editions of books w T hose first editions had preceded 1821. 

The above indicates that the desultory and scattered beginnings of 
English grammar before 1775 sowed the seed which, after the Revo- 

"Ibid., 776. 

"Ibid., 775. 

« Goold Brown, Am. Ann. of Ed. and Ins., 1832, 584. 

49 Barnard, op. cit., 77(5-6. 

47 This catalogue is omitted from this volume ; Appendix A has list of grammars to 1802. 

48 Includes English books reprinted in America up to 1800. 


tion, began very rapidly to ripen into a harvest. The number of 
new textbooks alone for the entire period averaged more than four a 
year, and in the decade between 1821 and 1830 more than seven a year. 

Only a rough estimate of the total number of editions can be made ; 
many of the textbooks reached large circulation. Among the more 
popular may be mentioned Comly's, 1804, which reached its fifteenth 
: edition in 1838; 49 GreenleafV" Grammar Simplified," 1819, its twen- 
tieth edition in 1837; Samuel Kirkham's "An English Grammar in 
Familiar Lectures," 1823, its thirty-sixth edition in 1834, its fifty- 
third edition in 1841 ; 50 Parker's " Progressive Exercises," 1823, pri- 
marily a composition book, attained its forty-fifth edition in 1845. 
Bullion's " Practical Lessons in English Grammar," 1844, reached its 
thirteenth edition by 1851 ; William H. Wells's " School Grammar " 
was in its twentieth edition in 1854 ; and in five years Peter Bullion's 
"Analytical and Practical Grammar," of 1849, attained its thirty-fifth 

A modest estimate, then, of the total number of editions attained 
by the leading grammarians, including Murray and his followers, is 
400. Others were frequently reprinted ; for example, Alexander's, 10 ; 
Jandon's, 18 ; Brown's, 10 ; Hull's, 7, etc. Even estimating that many 
had only one edition, the total number of American editions of gram- 
mars before 1850 was in the neighborhood of 1,000. 51 

Still more difficult is it to estimate the number of copies turned out in 
these 1,000 editions. The number of volumes printed in a few editions 
is known. As early as 1772 and 1787 editions of 10,000 copies of Dil- 
worth's " New Guide " were issued. This is hardly a fair criterion, 
however, because Dilworth's included three textbooks in one and was 
without serious competitors. In 1766 the firm of Franklin & Hall 
was preparing an edition of Dilworth's consisting of 2,000 copies. 52 

One of the most used early texts was Bingham's " Young Ladies' 
Accidence." Of this the 1792 edition included 4,000 copies. 53 It has 
been asserted that this book passed through 20 editions of 5,000 copies 
on the average, aggregating 100,000 copies, before 1820. 54 Kirkham 
affirmed, in 1837, that his. book was selling at the rate of 60,000 a 
year. 55 In 1829, after being only six years off the press, Kirkham's 
book was selling at the rate of 20,000 a year. 56 

48 The evidence as to the number of editions is taken from Barnard's list of American 
textbooks in Am. J. of Ed., XIII, XIV, XV. 

50 Barnard refers to a one hundred and tenth edition. Op. cit., XIV, 736 ; also Goold 
Brown, Gram, of Gram., 28. 

51 The actual count of known editions of books mentioned in the catalogue previously 
referred to is 961. The evidence is acknowledged to be very incomplete. See Barnard's 
lists. Am. J. of Ed., XIII. XIV, XV. 

M Evans, op cit., 4, 52. 314, and 7, III. 

88 Evans, op. cit., 8, 257. 

M Small, Early N. E. Sch., 107 ; also Barnard, op. cit., XIV, 212. 

55 Knickerbocker Mag., Oct., 1837. 66 Brown, op. cit., 28. 

60258°— 22 6 



If we may assume that 5,000 copies is a fair average for each edi- 
tion, then approximately 5,000,000 copies of grammatical textbooks 
were printed in America by 1850. In other words, two editions for 
every large city were issued by that date. 

TIVE STATES, 1800-1850. 


English grammar was a part of the curriculum of the academies 
chartered by the regents of the University of New York from 1784, 
the year of its beginning. Regents' reports for the years 1804 to 1807, 
based on data obtained from the individual reports made by the 
academies, show that during these years English grammar was taught 
on a par with Latin grammar. 57 

Each year special mention is made of English grammar, together 
with other branches usually considered parts of the English curricu- 
lum, as distinguished from the Latin. Indeed, they are mentioned in 
a larger number of academies than is the curriculum of the " dead 
languages." 58 

The academies have more significance than appears at first thought. 
After 1821 the academies of New York were regarded as a source of 
supply of teachers for the common schools of the State. In that year 
the regents said : " It is to these seminaries that we must look for a 
supply of teachers for the common schools." 59 In 1827 and succeed- 
ing years recommendations to this eifect were repeated to the legisla- 
ture by the regents, with pleas for increased appropriations. In 1834 
the legislature passed the desired law. 60 In consequence the regents 
declared that no person should be admitted to the teachers' depart- 
ment until he had passed such an examination as to entitle him to be 

67 The following table is taken from Hough's Hist, and Statis. Rec., Univ. of New York, 1784-1884, 421 














Reading, writing 

















. 18 


English grammar, arithmetic 


Mathematics, bookkeeping 


Dead languages 


Logic, rhetoric, composition 


Moral philosophy 


Natural philosophy 


French language 




68 This term was upon the printed blank sent out by the regents during the four years 

69 Hough, op. cit., 527. 
60 Ibid., 536, 



considered a scholar in the higher branches of English education, the 
first specified subject of Which is the English language. 61 By 1837, 
374 persons were enrolled in these teachers' departments. 62 After 1836 
the total enrollment in the academies increased at the rate of nearly 
1,000 students a year, reaching the number of 20,920 in 1852. 

Consideration of the textbooks used by the academies between 1832 
and 1850 shows that the Murray grammars gradually disappeared. 63 
Kirkham's book does not reach its height until 1840 ; then it begins to 
disappear, while Brown's gradually increases in popularity and the 
new books of Weld, Wells, and Greene come to the fore. Greenleaf's 
has meantime sunk into insignificance. Bullion's books were " The 
Principles of English Grammar," Albany, 1834, which reached its 
fourteenth edition in 12 years ; " Practical Lessons in English Gram- 
mar and Composition," New York, 1844, thirty-third edition in seven 
years; two minor works, and, finally, "Analytical and Practical Eng- 
lish Grammar," New York, 1849, which attained its thirty-fifth edi- 
tion in six years. 64 Wells's, Clark's, Weld's, and Greene's books 
belong to a new generation of textbooks. These we shall see in a later 
chapter originating an entirely new conception of the nature and 
functions of grammar and the methods of teaching it. 65 

81 Ibid., 539. 
02 Ibid., 546. 

Textbooks in grammar, New York academies, 1836-1852 — Number of academies 

using various texts. 
[Compiled from Annual Reports of Regents of State of N. Y., 1837-53.] 



























1 ! 
1851 18K2 

Total number of academies 








Number of students 













































































Weld . 















Total grammars used . . 


122 162 















64 Barnard, op. cit., XIII, 221. 
« See Chap. VI, p. 152. 



Turning now to the common schools of New York, as distinguished 
from the academies, we find that the reign of the Murray books 
reached its height about 1833. 66 

The second book, reaching its height of popularity by 1839, is 
Kirkham's " English Grammar by Familiar Lectures," 1825, of which 
Barnard lists editions up to the forty-ninth, all published in New 
York before 1840. 67 Then follows Goold Brown's " The Institutes of 
English Grammar," New York, 1823. The fourth author is Roswell 
Smith, whose two works were " Intellectual and Practical Grammar 
on the Inductive System," Providence, 1829, and " English Grammar 
on the Productive System," Boston, 1831. Next comes Jeremiah 
Greenleaf, whose " Grammar Simplified," New York, 1829, reached 
its twentieth edition in 1851. 68 

Detailed discussion of the significance of the domination of the 
Murray books, apparently reaching their height in New York about 
1833, and of the almost meteoric rise of Kirkham contemporaneous 
with the passing of Murray, is reserved for another chapter 69 on 
methods of teaching. Of interest here is the comparison of the 
amount of grammar being taught during this period. County offi- 
cers almost without exception report that four subjects are taught in 
all towns — reading, spelling, arithmetic, and grammar. The table 
on page 85 shows the three most widely used textbooks in the counties 
of New York of these three subjects, in addition to grammar. 70 

In each subject there seems to be one book which goes far toward 
monopolizing the field. In grammar, honors for the period are fairly 
well distributed between two, and the two together have a distinct 

68 Textbooks in grammar, New York Public Schools, 1826-^1839 — Number of towns 

using various texts. 

[Compiled from Annual Rept. Supt. Common Schls., N 

Y., 1830-1840.] 

























































Murray Introd 

Murray Sequel 


Other books: 

English Reader 


647 ' 



Daboll's Arithmetic 

349 473 
302 417 


Webster's Speller 


8T Barnard, op. cit, XIV, 763. 

88 Ibid., XIII, 639. 

89 See Chap. VI, p. 134. 

70 Textbooks Used in New York, 1827-31. Summary from Reports of Supt. Com. Scb. 
N. Y., reprinted A. J. of Ed, and Ins., 1832, 378, 



advantage over Daboll's Arithmetic. By 1839 Kirkham alone sur- 
passed all other textbooks except Webster's Speller, which for some 
reason shows an unusual advance that year. 






































English Reader 

Daboll's Arithmetic 

Murray's Grammar 

Webster's Speller 


Woodbridge's Geography 

Willet's Geography 

Morse's Geography 

Adams's Arithmetic 

Pike's Arithmetic 

Cobb's Geography 

Greenleaf ' s Grammar 

History of the United States. 

Tyler's History 

Colburn's Arithmetic 

Kirkham 's Grammar 















An idea of the proportion of pupils studying grammar may be 
obtained from facts a few years later. In 1842, out of 173,384 pupils, 
reported from 43 counties, 28,119 were studying English grammar. 71 
In 1846, of 227,760 pupils in winter schools, 51,484 were reported as 
studying grammar, and of 211,747 in summer schools 32,289 were 
studying the subject. 72 In 1847, of 47,833 pupils in summer sessions 
39,846 were studying grammar. 73 In round numbers, between 15 and 
20 per cent of the total number of pupils were studying grammar in 
the common schools of New York as the middle of the century 


The Massachusetts law of 1826, amended in 1837 and 1839, required 
" in every town containing fifty families [extended in 1839 to ' every 
town in this commonwealth '] 74 . . . one school for the instruction 
of children in orthography, reading, writing, English grammar, 
geography, arithmetic, and good behavior." Horace Mann, secretary 
of the board of education, in 1838 interpreted this law to prescribe 
what he calls " minimum literary qualifications of teachers " ; that is, 
they " must be competent to teach the various subjects named." 75 

Moreover, the law of 1835 required the school committee of every 
town to submit annual school returns containing replies to 11 definite 

"Ibid., 1843, 7. 

"Ibid., 1847, 18. 

"Ibid., 1848, 81. 

u Acts and Resolves, Mass., 1839, 22. 

« Mass. Sch. Rept., 1838, 59. 

Mann is very careful to emphasize the point that it is strictly lawful for districts to 
employ teachers more highly qualified, " who are able to teach the required branches 
better, because they are masters of higher ones — who, for instance . . . can teach English 
grammar better, because familiar, from the study of other languages, with the principles 
of universal grammar." 


inquiries, of Avhich the seventh was, " What are the Books in gem 
use, specifying Spelling Books, Arithmetics, Grammars, Geographi< 
Reading and other Books?" 76 This provision was in force until 
1841. 77 

Pursuant, then, to this series of acts the first four annual reports of 
Mann, 1837 to 1840, inclusive, contain these data, as reported by the 
separate town school committees. 78 

Concerning the status of grammar in Massachusetts between 1837 
and 1841, several conclusions may be reached. The law requiring 
grammar was obeyed in letter at least. Only four towns did not 
report the subject in their curricula; in addition, only six towns failed 
to make any report. Almost all the towns reported at least one text- 
book in grammar. Roswell Smith's " Inductive " and " Progressive " 
grammars were by far the most popular, with gradually increasing 
numbers; Murray's followed in decreasing popularity. In Worces- 
ter County, Pond's Murray monopolized the field, showing the com- 
paratively local popularity of the Worcester author. Of the 35 towns 
reporting Pond's as in use in 1837, 23 were in Worcester County and 
8 in the neighboring county of Franklin. About one-fifth of the 
towns reported more than two grammars ; some towns — Pittsfield, for 
example — reported as many as five textbooks in use. 79 

The larger towns only, like Boston 80 and Dorchester, used separate 

"Laws Com. Mass., XIII, 509. 

Acts and Resolves, Mass., 1841, 345. 


Toicns naming English grammar 
[Compiled from School Returns, 1838, 

in Massachusetts. 

1839, 1840, 1841.] 









































79 Concerning the great variety of textbooks in all subjects, Mann reported that in 1837 
there were in use in Massachusetts 110 different readers and spellers, 24 grammars, 22 
arithmetics, 20 geographies, 9 books of diction, 3 chemistries, 5 geometries, 2 compositions. 
A. A. of Ed. and I.. VII, 101. 

80 In 1840-41 the Boston school system embraced 1 Latin grammar school, 1 English 
high school, 13 grammar and writing schools, and 95 primary schools. Bost. Sch. Kept., 
1841, 3. Regulations prescribed for the grammar schools (four-year course), in Class III, 
Murray's " English Grammar," abridged by Alger, or Parker and Fox's " Progressive Exer- 
cises " ; Class II, the same continued and Foot's " Exercises in Parsing " ; Class I, the 
same continued, together with composition and declamation. Ibid., 16. For admission 
to the English high school an examination in grammar was necessary ; for the first year 
of high school a review of grammatical texts of the lower schools was prescribed, while 
" the several classes shall be instructed in grammar." Ibid., 20. 


textbooks in parsing and composition. Mann says that only two 
schools had separate instruction in composition. Nevertheless, we see 
that increasing use of Parker's " Progressive Exercises in Composi- 
tion " indicated that the latter subject was encroaching upon the field 
of formal grammar. 81 

The overwhelming preponderance of Smith's books, only six years 
off the press, denoted a rapid departure from the Murray type. To 
be sure, Pond's, Putnam's, and Alger's were nothing but modifications 
of Murray's; but even adding the towns using the three to the towns 
using Murray's a total of 159 towns in 1837 is still far short of the 
popularity of Smith's " Productive Lessons." Out of 298 towns 
reporting, 208 used Smith's book, 82 many of them in the grades imme- 
diately above the primary, usually called grammar grades. Private 
schools and academies also used it. 

This was the period of the extreme popularity of Kirkham's book 
in New York, but naturally we do not find the grammars of New 
York very widely adopted by the schools of Massachusetts. 

The records of 1840 show a remarkable increase of schools breaking 
away from the Murray type of instruction. 83 Only 54 towns, as com- 
pared with 104 in 1837, still kept the Murray, while the Putnam and 
Pond merely held their own. Very many towns which in 1837 had 
reported the use of both Smith's and Murray's, in 1840 reported the 
former alone. 

While on the whole the law requiring the teaching of grammar was 
generally obeyed, there is frequent testimony that it was studied with 
reluctance and even open opposition. For example, the Provincetown 
committee reported : " Grammar has been attended to very indiffer- 
ently, in our town schools, for all past time. There are but few 
scholars who study it at all, and few indeed who have made much 
proficiency in it." 84 In the same year the Westport school officials 
asserted : 

As there are some schools in which grammar has never been taught . . . and 
there are few or none who wish to pursue it ... . for these reasons the com- 
mittee has been urged to grant certificates to teachers deficient in grammar. 86 


Vermont and New Hampshire present much the same relative 
emphasis on grammar between 1840 and 1850. Especially frequent is 
the complaint against the multiplicity of textbooks. The State super- 
intendent of Vermont reports, in 1848, that several conventions of 

"Mann, op. cit. "Mass. Sch. Ret., 1843, 271. 

« See Chap. IV, p. 86. " Ibid., 252. 

•» Ibid. 


county superintendents had recommended uniform textbooks. The 
grammar chosen was William H. Wells's. 86 English grammar was 
included, according to the State official," among the usual branches." 87 
Superintendents of various counties report " Wells' grammars in 
most schools," 88 while the State superintendent thinks that the 
acquaintance with grammar acquired is " very slight." 89 " Teachers 
are very poorly prepared." 90 


In his section on schoolbooks the school superintendent of New 
Hampshire, in 1846, makes a typical comment : 

In the days of Pike's Arithmetic, and Murray's Grammar, and Webster's 
Spelling Book, there was no trouble in choosing books; there were none to 
choose from. Our difficulty consists mainly in determining which is best among 
so many that are good. 91 

One county official strikes even a new note when he recommends 
that " a portion of the time now devoted to grammar and arithmetic 
ought to be spent in the proper study of mankind." 92 


Only an occasional reference concerning grammar finds place in 
the records of the State superintendent of Ohio during this early 
period. In 1838 one county official reported : " Reading, writing, 
arithmetic, geography, and grammar are taught in most schools." 93 
Clerks of the county examiners complain of the almost utter incom- 
petency of teachers, one saying that of 156 examined 53 were very 
poorly qualified and but 51 understood " either wholly or in part " 
geography, English grammar, and history. The county was com- 
pelled to accept them, else many schools would have been left without 
teachers." 94 

Ten years later (1846-47) the status of grammar had improved 
considerably in Ohio. Reports of the State superintendent indicate 
that the subject was now regarded as an essential part of the common- 
school program. In the words of the State Teachers' Association of 

86 Rept. Supt. Com. Sch., Vt., 1848, 21. 
» T Ibid., 24. 

88 Ibid., 1849, 52. 

89 Ibid., 17. 

90 Ibid., 47. 

"Kept. Supt. Com. Sch. N. H., 1846-7, 18. 
88 Ibid., 1848, Appendix, XXXIX. 
M Rept. of Supt. Com. Sch., 1839, 52. 
"Ibid., 53. 



1847, " a substantial English education ought to be given every citi- 
zen of the State." 95 In the " union schools," Ohio's term for com- 
mon schools, divided into primary, secondary, and senior or grammar- 
school departments — 

a thorough course of instruction in all the common English branches is pursued, 
and to this is added, when practicable, a high school, in which the higher 
English branches, mathematics, and the languages are taught. 96 

Ashtabula County reported that Smith's Grammar was used in 99 
schools, Kirkham's in 49, Brown's in 25, Noell's in 16, Bullion's in 13. 97 
The following tabular statement from the same county gives indica- 
tion of the number of pupils studying the subject as compared with 
the other English branches : 

Summer schools, 1847. 







in arith- 

in gram- 

in geog- 

in com- 













Per cent. 

Per cent. 

Per cent. 

Per cent. 

Per cent. 

* Ibid., 34. t 

Seneca County also furnishes data on this point. The number of 
pupils studying spelling was 3,200; arithmetic, 3,540; grammar, 420; 
geography, 500." 

Nevertheless, complaint was frequently made that teachers were 
incompetent to teach the subject. 1 Licking County so reports. In 
Fairfield County, of 110 licensed all were found competent to teach 
reading, writing, and arithmetic, only 64 were proficient in grammar, 
62 in geography, and 10 in algebra. 2 In Knox County somewhat more 
than 50 per cent of the teachers were competent in grammar, 3 and 
some districts refused to allow grammar and geography to be taught, 
the examiner adding : " If geography and grammar were added as 
legal qualifications of teachers, they would be required to understand 
them." Ashtabula County reported fully all the examinations given 
pupils in the various classes. Eighteen minutes were allowed candi- 
dates to answer the following examination in grammar : * 

98 Rept. of Sec. of State, Com. Sen., 

1848, 52. 

1 Ibid., 


•«Ibid., 56. 

• Ibid., 


"Ibid., 32. 

• Ibid., 


••Ibid., 47. 

« Ibid., 



It is the mind that lives. 

1. How many capital letters should be used in writing the above sentence? 

2. Is the sentence simple or compound? 

3. How much may be regarded as a simple sentence? 

4. In this sentence what are the principal parts? 

5. What is government in grammar? 

6. What is meant by case? 

7. What is meant by the conjugation of a verb? 

8. Give the principal parts of the verb " to go." 

These questions were given to 455 children of average age of 15; 
42 per cent of the answers were correct. The highest average was 72 
per cent for Morgan Township. 5 The same attitude toward the cur- 
riculum was found in the State reports of Ohio in the decade 1847- 
1857 as in the preceding 10 years ; the references, however, are scatter- 
ing and unsatisfactory. Nevertheless, the fact that we invariably find 
grammar named whenever a complete curriculum is mentioned indi- 
cates that the subject was fully established. In Ashtabula County, in 
1850, the distribution of pupils by studies was : Orthography, 2,174 ; 
reading, 6,005; mental arithmetic, 1,684; written arithmetic, 2,214; 
geography, 1,248 ; English grammar, 934 ; composition, 759. 6 Coshoc- 
ton County reported 255 pupils in spelling, 181 in arithmetic, 180 
in grammar, 13 in geometry. 7 Holmes, Meigs, Preble, Rockland, 
and Scioto Counties reported grammar taught in all the districts, 8 
while Pike County affirmed — 

the provision of the law requiring teachers to understand Geography and Eng- 
lish Grammar should by no means be repealed. It is found that in this county 
teachers are as defective in Arithmetic as in Grammar ; . . . the majority, yea, 
four-fifths of the applicants, are unqualified to teach anything more than the 
first principles.* 


The private schools of North Carolina generally included English 
grammar in their curricula after 1800. 10 Five schools before 1800 
report grammar. Grove Academy, the earliest, in 1787 reported 
" twenty-five students under a master who teaches only the Latin and 
English grammar." xl The trustees of New Bern Academy report the 
examination of pupils in the English language in 1794 ; 12 likewise, 

e Ibid., 21. 

•Ann. Rept. Sec. State, Com. Sen., 1851, 55. 

I Ibid., 63. 

» Ibid., 79, 96, 104, 107, 112. 
•Ibid., 103. 

10 Data in this section are compiled from North Carolina Schools and Academies, 1790- 
1840, A Documentary History, by Charles L. Coon. 

II Coon (op. cit., 75) cites Carr's Dixon Letters, 34, 35. 
12 Ibid., 50. New Bern Gaz., Jan. 4, 1794. 


Fayetteville Academy announces that pupils excel in English gram- 
mar in 1800. 13 in 1794 Wayne Academy began with emphasis in 
English, and a few years later the " fifth class . . . were examined in 
English Grammar from the verb ' to have' to syntax"; the sixth 
class " as far as the substantive " ; the seventh " as far as the ' article,' " 
and the eighth class " to the verb ' to be.' " 14 

The decade between 1801-1810 shows 18 schools specifically naming 
grammar. The following are typical statements: Wadesborough 
Academy, " English Grammar, Geography, . . . twelve Dollars." 15 
Caswell Academy employed an instructor " to teach the English Lan- 
guage grammatically." 16 The Halifax Classical School was opened 
in 1807 " where he (the principal) taught the Latin & English gram- 
matically. . . ." 17 The succeeding decade shows 25 academies and 
schools definitely mentioning the subject. In the Salisbury Academy 
Miss Elizabeth T. Harris was examined " on the whole of English 
Grammar, parsing, correcting false syntax, rules of punctuation, per- 
spicuity, etc. . . . and she exhibited several specimens of Composi- 
tion." 18 In 1819 John Haasam came to Raleigh " as a traveling teacher 
of English Grammar." His announcement begins : " The Acquisition 
of English Grammar Rendered pleasing, expeditious and perma- 
nent." 19 The decade of 1821-1830 shows 39 definite announcements 
of grammar ; that of 1831-1840 shows 31 schools which give the sub- 
ject a prominent place. One Edward Fowlkes, in 1831, announced of 
a certain school : " It is an institution in which the English Grammar 
is taught upon a completely new and successful plan in seven weeks, 
at seven dollars per scholar. ' ; 20 

In all, 118 schools, of about 300 private institutions of which 
Coon has reprinted documents, were definitely teaching English 

"Ibid., 60. Raleigh Reg., Aug. 19, 1800. 

14 Ibid., 634. Raleigh Reg., Oct. 9, 1818. The textbooks mentioned in these records 
are Murray's Grammar and Murray's Exercises. Among the books advertised in North 
Carolina during the period before 1810 appear also Webster's, Ashe's, Dilworth's, Priestley's. 
Lowth's, Aker's, Harrison's "Exercises in Bad English," Murray's " Exercises," Mur- 
ray's " Introduction," Fisher's. Ibid., 769, 73, 74, 75, 77, 80, 86. After 1810 there appear 
in addition Alexander's, Garretson's " Exercises in Bad English," Greenleaf's, Ingersol's, 
Comley's, Brown's, Boardman's. Ibid., 789, 95. In 1838 Turner and Hughes, of Raleigh, 
advertised " 200 Smith's Practical Productive Grammar, 700 Murray's English Grammar 
well bound in leather and offered at a reduced price." Ibid., 798, Raleigh Reg., Mar. 
12, 1838. 

School officials were eager to secure good English teachers. Such advertisements 
appeared in the Raleigh Register between 1800-1810 ; also qualified " to teach English 
Grammar." Ibid., 800-4. From 1811-1820 there are cited seven similar advertisements. 
Thirty of the 40 advertisements and announcements cited between 1821 and 1840 concern 
teachers for English schools. Ibid., 813-820. 

15 Ibid., 2. Raleigh Reg., May 9, 1803. 
10 Ibid., 19. Raleigh Reg., Dec. 9, 1803. 

" Ibid., 175. Halifax Jour., Jan. 12, 1807. 
18 Ibid., 363. Western Carolinian, Dec. 19, 1820. 
"Ibid., 521. Raleigh Reg., Aug. 27, 1819. 
"•Ibid., 558; The Star, June 30, 1831. 



grammar before 1840. No direct evidence appears with respect 
instruction in English grammar in the 172 other schools, and we can 
not therefore assert positively that instruction in this branch, was 
given in any one of them. Yet it seems likely that some of these 
schools gave such instruction, because many of them do not announce 
their curricula, and almost without exception those schools which 
do include grammar in the documents studied. However, among the 
schools not listed very many announced " the English School," " the 
branches usually taught in English Schools," " the lower and higher 
branches of English," " all branches of English," " the ordinary 
branches of English," or used similar phrases. We may conclude that 
the private schools of North Carolina were very generally laying 
stress upon grammar before 1840. 

4. THE STATUS OF GRAMMAR, 1850 TO 1870. 

In spite of the fact that an enormous number of grammars were 
sold every year in the middle of the nineteenth century, they were 
used mostly in the intermediate and high schools of the larger and 
more prosperous towns, and at best only in a perfunctory way in the 
schools of smaller communities. 


A body of data concerning the status of the common schools of Penn- 
sylvania seems to bear out this conclusion for that State. In 1854 
the legislature passed a law requiring instruction in grammar 21 and 
obliged each county superintendent to submit an annual report to the 
superintendent of common schools. 22 In the following year all but a 
few counties complied. 

Examination of these reports shows that there is almost universal 
evidence of scarcity of good teachers ; that many who applied to take 
the examinations were rejected ; that many times teachers who were 
deficient in grammar and geography had to be accepted. Out of 50 
counties 28 county superintendents comment on the difficulty of secur- 
ing competent teachers of any subjects, 39 upon the incompetency of 
teachers applying for examination in grammar. For example, in 
Bucks County 270 teachers were examined ; certificates were granted 
to 20 who were deficient in English grammar on their promise " that 
they would make themselves acquainted with this subject during the 
year." 23 In Bradford County " out of 500 teachers examined . . . 

21 " It shall be the duty of each county superintendent to see that in every district there 
shall be taught orthography, reading, writing, English grammar, geography, and arith- 
metic. . . ." Laws Com. Pa., 1854, 625. 

»Ibid., 627. 

88 Pa. Com. Sen. Kept., 1854, 25. 


one-fourth fell below the standard required by law." 24 Center 
County was compelled to issue many certificates from which English 
grammar and geography were stricken out. 25 Especially suggestive 
is the statement from Clearfield County : 

I find many who can go through the grammar and repeat every rule and 
conjugate every verb correctly and can not analyze and parse the most simple 
sentence. 2 " 

The foregoing are fairly typical replies. 

The superintendent of Adams County found that general opposi- 
tion to the new school law lay in the requirement that English gram- 
mar and geography should be taught. He affirmed that " none of the 
parents wish their children to study English Grammar and Geog- 
raphy." 27 He allayed the opposition by explaining that the law 
required grammar in every county but not in every school. This is 
typical of many references to hostility toward the subject; very few 
counties report favorable instruction in the subject, and that in the 
academies and larger schools. All these facts lead to the inference 
that English grammar as such had little place in the large majority 
of the common schools of Pennsylvania. To be sure, the law was new. 
The relative emphasis upon grammar and other higher branches in 
New York at this period indicates the effects of 25 years of legal 
requirement of the branches in the latter State as compared with the 
absence of such requirement in Pennsylvania. In the latter the report 
of Indiana County states what seems to have been near the general 
truth : 

A rough knowledge of spelling, reading, writing, and ciphering is deemed all 
sufficient, whilst a knowledge of grammar, geography, etc., is most heartily 
repudiated. 28 

In short, the Pennsylvania reports show that the schools were by 
no means fitted to give good instruction in grammar. Thirty-nine 
counties report grossly inadequate instruction; 29 say they have to 
accept whoever applies ; 20 complain of hopeless variety of textbooks 
and incompetent grading; 18 speak of decided opposition to gram- 
mar ; 14 say that local inspectors, being unpaid, are unsatisfactory ; 11 
mention wretched buildings; only 3 reports are really commenda- 
tory, although many are optimistic concerning the ultimate effect of 
State aid, certification of teachers, and other new features of the law. 

"Ibid., 19. 
28 Ibid., 38. 
2a Ibid., 47. 

27 Ibid., 4. 

28 Ibid., 15. The superintendent of Bucks County, in one school, saw 9 classes recite in 
the following order : One scholar in Swain's Reader ; 12 in Frost's History ; 1 in Emer- 
son's First Class Reader ; 1 in Comley's Reader ; 1 in Emerson's Third Class Reader ; 2 
in Emerson's Rhetorical Reader ; 1 In Comley's Spelling Book ; 2 in The Primer ; 2 in The 
A B C's, The same program was repeated in the afternoon. Ibid., 28, 



r dur- 

The status of grammar in the common schools of New Jersey 
ing the decade 1850 to 1860 may be seen by an examination of the 
reports of the State board of education for three representative 
years — 1850, 1854, and 1860. The total number of references in these 
reports concerning the curriculum include statements from 12 of the 
21 counties and from 19 different townships which specifically men- 
tion grammar. In 1850 Bergen County reports " grammar, history, 
arithmetic taught orally to young pupils " in Hackensack Town- 
ship ; 29 of 154 boys and 152 girls in Northampton Township, Burling- 
ton County, 66 were studying grammar, 30 and of 150 pupils, 50 Avere 
studying grammar in Southampton Township. 31 The superintendent 
of Hunterdon County reports that a few pupils only study grammar. 32 
An interesting sidelight, indicating that in certain quarters the sub- 
ject was regarded as the capstone of the common-school curriculum, is 
found in the following statement of the superintendent of Wood- 
bridge Township, Middlesex County : " There are taught all the sub- 
jects usually taught in the schools, from the alphabet to English 
grammar." 33 Of reports from 175 townships, in 1851, only five cited 
above speak of grammar. However, the subject is mentioned by every 
officer who mentions the curriculum at all. 

The following table giving the distribution of pupils by subjects 
in seven districts of Wall Township, Monmouth County, is enlighten- 
ing as showing the relatively small number of pupils studying gram- 
mar, which, as we have seen, was regarded as one of the higher 
branches in the common schools. 34 










Number of pupils 

































































Average attendance 











Beyond division 






Defining words 





In 1860, 205 townships in 21 counties show meager evidence as to 
grammar being a part of the curriculum, only eight townships refer- 
ring definitely to it. Roswell Smith's grammars predominate, and 
there is constant indication that the subject is taught as a higher 

29 Kept. State Supt., 1851, 32. 
80 Ibid., 41. 
» Ibid., 45. 

32 Ibid., 63. 
83 Ibid., 85. 
"Ibid., 1854, 




.branch, only very few pupils pursuing it. The conclusion which must 
be reached is that grammar was but indifferently taught in New Jer- 
sey, only in the better common schools, with less than one-tenth of the 
pupils studying it. This is entirely consistent with the status of the 
subject in Pennsylvania during the same period. 


The showing of New York for the decade in question is more favor- 
able. The State was evidently far in advance of Pennsylvania and 
New Jersey. 35 

In comparing with the adjoining States it needs to be remembered 
that the academies of New York are higher schools than the common 
schools considered in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Data concern- 
ing the status of grammar in the common schools of New York are 
not available after 1839 ; but even as early as 1826-1839 the showing 
for grammar in common schools in New York far surpasses that of 
the two other States named even for 20 years later. 36 

Regents' reports of New York, covering the condition of grammar 
for the period, 1865 to 1874, in the academies, show the complete 
passing of the grammars of the old guard (with the exception of 
Goold Brown's, Murray's, Kirkham's, Smith's, and Webster's). The 
newer grammars of the middle of the century have taken their place, 
as will be seen from the following table : 37 





















Smith . 




































85 The following table continues the table on page 83 through the years 1850 to 1856, 













22, 778 






20, 860 










































Compiled from Regent's Reports, 1852-1857, inclusive. The 1855 figures represent two-thirds of the year 

"See p. 84. 

« T Reg. Rep., 1876, 439. 



The new grammars of Quackenbos and Kerl have attained prom 
nence, and Swinton's " Language Lessons," of 1873, which was to 
revolutionize the teaching of the subject, is seen just entering the 
academies. The fact is significant that the total number of grammars 
reported is considerably diminished, even though the number of 
academies is increased. This means that the place of the subject in 
the curriculum has become more stable. 

Some light can be thrown on the status of grammar in the acad- 
emies during this period by reports of regents' examinations. The 
percentage of those passing in grammar is noticeably lower than in 
arithmetic, geography, and spelling, the three other subjects used. 38 


In Ohio, 1852, the 26 townships of Licking County taught English 
grammar. 39 That the instruction was largely perfunctory in some of 
the rural counties, at least, is evidenced by the superintendent of Pike 
County, who reported : 

That our children should learn to read and write, and occasionally, in large 
towns and cities, to the highly favoured, may be added, by way of luxury, a 
little sprinkling of Geography and Grammar, answers almost universal custom. 40 

That this man somewhat underestimated the universal custom is 
shown by the report of the State commissioner for the. year 1856, 
summarizing the number of pupils instructed in the various branches. 
The total number of " unmarried " children of school age (5 to 21) in 
the State was 799,666; of these, 561,315 were enrolled in the schools; 
the average attendance was 322,643. 41 The distribution of these by 
subjects is as follows : 42 

' 1856. 1857. 

Penmanship 249, 002 271, 440 

Mental arithmetic 82, 640 112. 744 

Written arithmetic „ 166, 665 187, 290 

Geography * 90, 784 108, 270 

English grammar 63, 414 75, 353 

Composition 15, 201 21. 916 

History 5, 824 6, 759 

Algebra 5, 790 7, 644 

* Percentage of students passing in grammar in New York academies, 1866 to 187S. 














11, 780 





15, 442 



Ann. Rept. Regt. Univ. N. Y., 89, 472. 
» Rept. Sec. State, Com. Sch., 1852, 40. « Rept. of Sen. Comm., 1857, 8Q, 

* Ibid., 51, « Ibid., 89, 


1856. 1857. 

Rhetoric 404 929 

Latin.. 675 1, 319 

Greek 113 159 

German .... 903 1,320 ' 

French 180 250 

Zoology 675 688 

This table, indicating that approximately one-fifth of the pupils 
were studying grammar, seems to warrant the assertion that the sub- 
ject was almost universal, including quite as large a percentage of 
pupils as in New York and Massachusetts. This conclusion must be 
qualified by two facts : First, undeveloped counties, like Pike 43 and 
Gallia, 44 report that, with very few exceptions, reading, writing, and 
arithmetic are " all the pupils are expected to acquire " ; second, there 
is frequent complaint that teachers are incompetent, especially in 
grammar and geography. In 1858 the State commissioner said : "As 
the chief of all causes of poor schools, poor teachers stands out. That 
one-half, or one-tenth (sic), even of the thousands of teachers in 
Ohio are in all respects what their profession demands no one can 
justly claim." 45 

The status of English branches in academies of Ohio in this decade 
(1850-1860) may be seen in the reports of typical academies made to 
State officials: 46 


















The status of grammar in New Hampshire schools in 1850-1852 is 
indicated by the report of the county commissioner of Rockingham 
County for the year 1851. The commissioner had been conducting a 
campaign against the multiplicity of schoolbooks and had succeeded 
in inducing his various town committees to recommend uniform 
books for the use of all the schools in their towns. He records, town 
by town, the grammars represented. Thirty towns report. Of these, 
2 do not mention books recommended; only 1 other does not 
mention a grammar. Of the remaining 24 towns, preference is 
shown in 14 for W. H. Wells's Grammar; in 7 towns for Roswell 

« Ibid., 1852, 49. 

"Ibid., 1856. 

«Ibid., 1858, 61. 

"Kept. State Com. Ed., 1858, 168, 67, 66, 61, 59. 

60258°— 22 7 



Smith's " Productive Lessons," and in 6 towns for Weld's " Ne 
Grammar." As second choice (used in a few schools) 3 towns 
reported Wells's, 4 Weld's, and 6 Smith's. 46a The total number of 
towns in Rockingham County, in 1852, was 37, with 455 schools in 
operation. 47 Scattered references in reports from commissioners of 
other counties indicate that Rockingham is typical. In Carroll 
County the commissioner especially examined grammar classes. 48 In 
Cheshire County Institute a teacher of grammar was provided. 49 Sul- 
livan County named a number of towns in which " grammar was 
better taught than it was last year." 50 In Grafton County the com- 
missioner emphasized the " elements of grammar." 51 In Coos County 
children of 12 were passing good examinations in grammar. 52 

The report of the State commissioner of the following year (1852) 
indicates that the county commissioners, meeting at the capital, recom- 
mended a uniform system of textbooks, among them H. N. Weld's 
New Grammar and Dyer H. Sanborn's Grammar. 53 Several county 
commissioners endeavored to have grammar " taught understand- 
ingly," 54 and occasionally there crept in a vigorous advocacy of com- 
position as supplementary to grammar. 55 Cheshire County reported 
a large variety of grammars. 56 


In 1857 the superintendent of instruction of Michigan asked the 
officers of all the union schools 57 to furnish him information upon 12 
points, one of which was the course of study pursued in the school. 
Replies from a number of schools, although very incomplete, enable 
us to determine the status of grammar in the curriculum. The normal 
grading appears to be reported in Dowagiac union school, divided 
into primar}-, grammar (or intermediate), and high school depart- 
ments. Rudiments of grammar were begun in the grammar school 
(the fifth year of the pupil's school life), together with composition 
and declamation. The high-school department, beginning in the 
seventh year of school life, included grammar, composition, analysis 
of English sentence, declamation, and elocution. 58 The equivalent 
course is reported in Grand Rapids, Jonesville, and Ontonagon. 59 
Ypsilanti, in the grammar department, used Clark's Primary Gram- 
mar, with declamations and compositions weekly; in the academic 

48a Kept. Comm. Scb. N. H., 1852, 61-7. « Ibid., 133. 

47 Op. cit., 1853, 64. » Ibid., 1853, 29. 

48 Ibid., 1852, 82. " Ibid-) 94. 

49 Ibid., 105. «*Ibid., 96-7. 

60 Ibid., 110. "Ibid.. 118. 

61 Ibid., 121. 

57 A term embracing all the public schools in the various communities. 
68 Mich. Sch. Repts., 1857, 457. 
89 Ibid., 465, 7, 77. 


department, Clark's Grammar, English analysis, original and selected 
declamations, and compositions weekly. 60 Coldwater reported the 
same curriculum with different textbooks. 61 Ann Arbor High School 
showed English grammar in its first year, 62 while Adrian High School 
required an entrance examination in grammar, analysis, and simple 
rules for composition. 63 

Neither the academies nor the common schools so far considered are 
in themselves sufficient to determine the status of instruction in gram- 
mar. We have seen that the common schools give but very limited 
and indifferent instruction in the subject and that the New York 
academies, looked upon as fitting schools for teachers, had special 
interest in grammar. There is available in convenient form informa- 
tion from the printed school regulations as to the status of the sub- 
ject obtaining in a considerable number of cities of representative 
distribution throughout the Union. The regulations of New York 
City; Springfield, Mass.; New Haven, New Bedford, Boston, Chi- 
cago, St. Louis, Louisville, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati are studied 
particularly. 64 


In the primary school (common, elementary, or district school in 
some cities), with from four to seven grades, the formal study of 
grammar was not begun. There is exception in the case of New 
Haven, where grammar is prescribed for the sixth and seventh grades 
of the common school. However, this city seems to have had no inter- 
mediate or grammar school. By 1866 Chicago had also adopted the 
twofold division — elementary and high schools — and grammar 
appears in the eighth, ninth, and tenth grades. The latter city 
announces, however, that " grammar shall be taught practically in 
all the grades in connection with composition." In the regulations 
of all the other cities noted a similar provision is made, either specifi- 
cally or by implication. Eastern cities seem to lay great stress on oral- 
grammar work in all grades except the first two. New York and Cin- 
cinnati have unique courses in " punctuation," running through all 
the primary grades. Cincinnati, insisting upon " practical " gram- 
mar for the first five grades, adds " and pupils in grade A (sixth) 

«o Ibid., 476. M Ibid., 440. 

61 Ibid., 449. e 3 Ibid., 434. 

"Data in Barnard's Amer. J. of Ed., 1870, 469-518. 

In the Cincinnati schools, 1860, pupils were distributed in the various branches of Eng- 
lish as follows: High schools — English grammar, 174, rhetoric, 294, reading, 364, compo- 
sition, 363, declamation, 199 ; intermediate schools — reading and orthography, 1,179. 
English grammar, 1,174, penmanship, 1,179, composition, 941, elocution, 204 ; in the dis- 
trict schools — alphabet, 4,632, English grammar, 421, composition, 463, elocution, 266. 
Common Sch. Cincin., 31st Ann. Rept, 9. The principal of the Woodward High School 
reported that " grammar is now well taught in the intermediate schools." Ibid., 57. The 
following year showed a total of 2,682 pupils in grammar, 3,616 in composition, 954 in 
elocution, 363 in rhetoric out of a total of 22,749 children enrolled. Ibid., 1861, 9. 


shall be familiar with their textbook (in grammar) as far as mode 
With this exception the fact seems to be that no formal grammar was 
taught in the first five years of school life, that it was rarely taught in 
the sixth year, and not often in the seventh. Provision for incidental 
instruction during these years is universal. 

In the intermediate grades, usually called grammar grades, the 
subject reigned supreme. New York, after her six years in punctua- 
tion, apparently gave tw r o years of relief, for formal grammar study 
does not appear until the third year of the grammar school. Not till 
the fifth year of the intermediate schools did textbook work in gram- 
mar begin, but it had been taught orally for the two years preceding. 
In the fifth year " English grammar commenced, with the use of text- 
books, to include the analysis, parsing, and construction of simple 
sentences, and with such definitions only as pertain to the parts of 
speech." This type of teaching was continued for the two following 

To summarize, New York began formal grammar in the ninth year 
of school, New Haven in the seventh, Cincinnati in the sixth, Spring- 
field in the seventh, New Bedford in the eighth, Boston in the eighth. 
Chicago in the eighth, St. Louis in the sixth, Louisville in the eighth, 
Philadelphia in the eighth. The average for these representative 
cities was about the eighth grade. 

As to the length of time given the study below the high school, New 
York assigned five years (two orally) ; New Haven, three years; New 
Bedford, two years ; Cincinnati, three years ; Springfield, three years ; 
Boston, three years; 65 Chicago, three years; St. Louis, two years; 
Louisville, three years; Philadelphia, five years. The average time 
given, apparently, was three years. This does not consider informal 

85 Boston shows the normal arrangement of three schools, as follows : 

Primary school. Six grades. No traces of formal grammar, but oral instruction in all 
grades. Grammar incidental. 

Grammar schools. Four grades. Grammar in the last three grades, class No. 3 using 
Kerl's " Elementary English Grammar," class No. 2 using Kerf's " Elementary " or Kerl's 
" Comprehensive English Grammar," class No. 1, grammar. The last two classes have 
composition and, in the boys' school, declamation. 

Girls' high school. Three grades. Entrance examination iu grammar. Lowest class — 
grammar reviewed, analysis of language and structure of sentences, composition. 

English high school. Three grades. Entrance examination in grammar. 

" The several classes shall also have exercises in English composition and declamation. 
The instructors shall pay particular attention to the penmanship of the pupils and give 
constantly such attention to spelling, reading, and English grammar as they may deem 
necessary to make the pupils familiar with these fundamental branches of a good 

The regulations of the English high schools for 1820, date of founding, required gram- 
mar in the lowest class, with composition, criticism, and declamation in all the classes. 
By 1886 grammar as a formal study had been dropped ; for the first class, however, were 
prescribed " reviews of the preparatory studies in the textbooks authorized to be used in 
the grammar and writing schools," and the provision was that " the several divisions shall 
also receive instruction in spelling, reading, writing, English grammar, declamation, com- 
position, and the French language." In the successive regulations of 1820, 1836. and 
1852 we see the process of forcing formal grammar into the lower school and retaining 
Incidental study of it in the high school, with entrance examination required. 



study of grammar or collateral study in connection with composition 
either before or after the formal study. Philadelphia was the only 
city on the list requiring textbook study for five years. 

The position of grammar in the high schools was as follows: In 
some cities an entrance examination or certificate of proficiency from 
the grammar school was required, as in New York and Boston ; in some 
cities review courses were prescribed in the first year of the high 
school, as in Louisville, Philadelphia, and others ; in still other cities 
grammar was designated as an incidental study in the high school — in 
all three grades of the Boston high school and in the last three grades 
in New Haven. 66 

Further light upon the status of grammar in the high-school cur- 
riculum of 1867 is found in a study made from the official regulations 
of 29 cities published in 1870. The original study includes all the 
subjects mentioned in the statutes as being taught in the high school. 
The following table 67 indicates only the subjects pertaining to the 
vernacular : 



























Fond du Lac (Wis.).. 
















Madison (Wis.) 











Niles (Mich ) 



Philadelphia . 



Portland (Me.) 


















Spelling and English synonyms appear in the statutes of 5 cities, 
reading in 12, declamation in 17, English literature in 21, composi- 
tion in 23, grammar in 23, and rhetoric in 27. However, the data are 

66 In St. Louis grammar was begun as a textbook study in the sixth grade of the district 
school ; the first quarter to page 27 ; second, 46 ; third, 58 ; fourth, 75 ; continued in sev- 
enth grade, first quarter to page 100 ; second, 122 ; third, 164 ; fourth, review. The subject 
was then dropped until the first year of the high school, in the first year of which English 
parsing and analysis are prescribed. 

In Louisville no grammar was shown in the four years of the primary department ; in 
the intermediate department there was oral instruction based on the readers, in which the 



ambiguous, because a number of the cities are listed in the above table 
as giving grammar whose educational statutes, printed in the sam 
volume, do not require it. Among them are Boston, Chicago, and Cin 
cinnati, which, according to the statutes, had grammar in the high 
school only as an incidental study; yet these cities are listed in the 
table as teaching grammar in the high school. This fact indicates the 
only inference that can safely be drawn from the table, namely, that 
23 of the 29 cities prescribe grammar in some form, either (1) as a 
regular subject, supplementing a two or three year course in the inter- 
mediate schools, as in New Haven, or (2) as a review course, lasting 
one or two terms, as in New York, or (3) as incidental or supplemen- 
tary work in connection with composition or rhetoric, as in Boston, 
Chicago, and Cincinnati. 

pupils " repeat orally and in writing, in their own language, the substance of each les- 
son " ; in the grammar department of three years " they shall be taught all the lessons 
in Butler's Large Grammar to syntax. They shall also be taught to parse words in 
simple sentences not found in the grammar." This is for the first year. In the second 
" the same ... to prosody ; to compare adjectives and adverbs, to decline nouns and 
pronouns and to conjugate verbs, in writing. They shall also be taught to parse all the 
parsing exercises in said lessons and to parse words in sentences not found in the gram- 
mar." For the third year Butler's grammar was prescribed complete. The girls' high 
school had English grammar and composition throughout the first year. The boys' high 
school seems to have had no grammar. 

Philadelphia had no grammar in the four years of the primary or five years of the 
secondary departments. In the grammar-school department of five years the instruction 
was the most elaborate the writer has found. In the first and second years Hart's " Intro- 
duction " or Parker's through the nine parts of speech, including the simple rules ef 
syntax ; in the third year Hall's or Parker's introductory work completed and construction 
of simple sentences within the same limits ; in the fourth year Hall's or Parker's English 
Grammar commenced and continued to the rules of syntax ; parsing and construction of 
sentences and correction of false syntax ; in the fifth year Hall's or Parker's completed 
and reviewed. Directions for teachers are : '' The disputed points or matters far above 
the pupils' capacity should never be dwelt upon. The teacher's object must be rather to 
impart such a knowledge of the construction of the language as will enable the pupil to 
speak and write with a reasonable degree of correctness." 

•'Am. J. of Ed., 1870,643. 

Chapter V. 



From the very beginning it seems that English grammar was 
intended to perform for the mother tongue the same functions Latin 
grammar performed for that language. The aim of grammar 
schools — to make finished writers and speakers of Latin — was paral- 
leled by the aim of English schools in America, patterned after 
Franklin's Academy — to make finished writers and speakers of the 
vernacular. In each the grammatical study of the languages was fun- 
damental. As the requirements of practical life in America seemed 
to demand less Latin and more English, and as the English schools 
more and more took on the dignity formerly held by the Latin schools, 
English grammar advanced correspondingly to a more prominent 
place in the curriculum. This identity of function is powerfully 
supported by the striking similarity in content and in methods of 
study as expounded by textbook makers. 

The present and the succeeding chapter trace the changes in meth- 
ods of teaching which have marked the successive stages of English 
grammar in American schools between 1750 and 1850. 68 Roughly, 
this aspect of the study may be outlined in two grand divisions, each 
consisting of three subdivisions of approximately 25 years : 

I. Grammar as an art. 

(a) Latin period, 1750 to 1784. 

(b) Rote period, 1784 to 1823. 

(c) Parsing period, 1823 to 1847. 

II. Grammar as a science. 

(a) Analysis period, 1848 to 1873. 

(b) Rhetorical period, 1873 to 1891. 

(c) Incidental study period, 1891 to 1920. 

The two main divisions are based upon the fundamental conception 
of grammar held by the leading grammarians. 69 About 1850 the idea 

88 A later study will carry the Investigation down to 1920. 

• The term " leading grammarians " is perhaps misleading. The connotation intended 
is to designate authors leading in influence upon school practices. In this sense Murray 
is the leading grammarian in this country up to 1850. The date of his textbook (1795) 
is not selected as a dividing point in the outline, because the date of Webster's Grammar 



that grammar is an art was changed to the idea that grammar is a 
science. To the various subdivisions names have been given on the 
basis of the one method predominating during the period involved. 
The chronological limits of the periods have been marked by the 
date of an innovating textbook of widespread influence or by some 
other important or culminating event explained in the course of the 

The year 1848 does not mark a sharp breaking away from the 
conception of grammar as an art, for progress in methods of teach- 
ing can not be marked by exact dates. Long before any important 
change becomes prevalent in all or in almost all schools, far-seeing 
teachers are discarding the old and experimenting with the new. 
For instance, before 1848 some grammarians had substituted the sen- 
tence for the word as the unit of instruction ; long after 1848 many 
textbook makers clung tenaciously to the word as the unit of study. 
Grammarians earlier than Greene (1848) had made their point of 
departure the analysis of sentences; but Greene seems to have come at 
the opportune moment, when schoolmen were aroused, when disgust 
with old methods had reached a crisis. His book became exceedingly 
popular ; he had many followers. The date of his grammar marks the 
chief turning point in our discussion of methods. In a similar way 
the significance of the major event which marks each step in the out- 
line will be considered in detail through 1850. The point to be borne 
in mind is that great changes in methods are not instantaneously 
inaugurated ; they are matters of slow and painful growth. 

One further word of explanation. The names given to the six 
periods are titles of predominating metheds. A possible criticism 
of this nomenclature is that parsing, for example, is as old as gram- 
mar itself and will continue in some form as long as grammar is 
studied. Granted that this is true. The evidence presented for the 
years 1823-1848 seems to indicate that amid the passing of the old 
and the coming in of the new methods parsing was the method par 
excellence. The same comment is pertinent to all the other periods 
except the first. The confusing element here is that Latinized meth- 
ods exerted a strong influence in a great majority of schools through 
the entire nineteenth century and are with us to-day, though happily 
in diminishing emphasis. Noah Webster was right when he said 
that it requires the club of Hercules wielded by the arm of a giant to 
destroy the hydra of educational prejudice. 

(1784) more closely approximates the close of the Revolution. Moreover, in influence upon 
the schools Webster and Murray were very similar. Regarded in another sense, Murray 
was far from a leading grammarian, for he was a confessed compiler, frankly indebted to 
Lowth; Priestley, and the British grammar. He was a follower, not a leader, in constructive 
grammatical scholarship, being in this regard below Noah Webster. Throughout this 
chapter grammatical thinkers have our attention only in so far as it can be shown that 
they exerted a direct influence upon the school practices of their day. 


The methods of the early Latinists 71 seem to have cast their baneful 
influence over the entire four centuries during which the vernacular 
has been building for itself a suitable grammatical study. At any 
rate, the Latin and the Kote periods are really one and the same. The 
writer has no particular pride in maintaining strict chronological 
balance in his outline, except that he thinks it helpful to divide the 
period 1750 to 1823 into two parts. The other five periods are useful 
limitations both as to time and title. The following study of the 
interrelations of these periods may throw some light upon what has 
been heretofore a confused and confusing field. 


An examination of a series of definitions of grammar taken from 
influential textbooks 72 indicates that grammar was considered an art 
in the texts which determined the earliest instruction in America. 

Ben Johnson : Grammar is the art of true and well-speaking a language ; the 
writing of it is an accident. 74 

Lily : Grammatica est recte scribendi, atque loquendi ars." 

Wharton : Grammar is the Art of Writing, and Speaking, well/" 

Brightland : 

Grammar do's all the Art and Knowledge teach, 
According to the Use of every Speech, 
How our Thoughts most justly may express 
In Words, together join'd, in Sentences. 76 

Greenwood: Grammar is the Art of Speaking rightly. 1 have left out the Art 
of Writing, because that is an Accident of Speech, and none but the essential or 
chief Things ought to be put into a definition." 

Dilworth: Grammar is the Science of Letters, or the Art of Writing and 
Speaking properly and syntactically. 78 

Fisher : Grammar is the Art of expressing the Relation of Things in Con- 
struction, with due Accent in Speaking, and Orthography in Writing, according 
to the Custom, of those whose Language we learn.™ 

British : Grammar is the Art of Expressing the Relations of Words in Con- 
struction, with due Quantity in Speaking and Orthography in Writing. 80 

Lowth : Grammar is the Art of rightly expressing our Thoughts by Words. 81 

Priestley : The grammar of any tongue is a collection of observations on the 
structure of it, and a system of rules for the proper use of it. 88 

71 " Latinists " is the term repeatedly used by Franklin. 

72 An attempt is made here to select for comparison books which immediately preceded 
the beginnings of grammatical instruction in America : First, books upon which English 
grammar was founded ; second, books which, printed In England in the eighteenth cen- 
tury, were imported or reprinted in America and used as textbooks ; and, third, books 
written by American authors which were most influential before 1825. The text selected 
and the editions used are named in the bibliography. 

73 Lily, op. clt., 1. 78 Dilworth, op. cit., 85. 

74 Johnson, op. cit., 3. 7 » Fisher, op. cit., 1. 

75 Wharton, op. cit., 1. 80 British, op. cit., 1. 
n Brightland, op. cit., 1. 81 Lowth, op. cit, 1. 

77 Greenwood, op. cit., 48. a Priestly, op. cit., 1. 



Alexander : Grammar teaches the Art of expressing and communicating o 
thoughts with verbal propriety. 83 

Murray: English Grammar is the art of speaking and writing the English 
language with propriety." 4 

Webster: Grammar is the art of communicating thoughts by words with 
propriety and dispatch. 85 

Brown: English Grammar is the art of speaking and writing the English Lan- 
guage correctly. 88 

Brightland uses the definition "Art and Knowledge, according to 
the Use of every Speech, how we our Thoughts express in Sentences " ; 
that is, the idea — knowledge of the use of language in sentences — 
seems to be prominent. But our feeling that the author of Bright- 
land's textbook may have had an inkling in 1706 of the modern con- 
ception of grammar as a science is quickly dispelled. We find him 
explaining in a footnote : " The modern as well as the old gram- 
marians have given us various Definitions of this useful Art." 87 
Greenwood, who is a close follower of Jonson, in his edition of 1711, 
calls writing an accident; but in his third edition (1747) he changes 
his definition to " English Grammar is the art of speaking and writ- 
ing the English language with propriety." This definition Murray 
copies exactly. 

Dilworth uses the word " science," but he speaks of the science of 
letters, which he considers the art of speaking and writing properly. 
Priestley certainly states the modern conception in his definition, but 
his apparant insight is misleading, for, in spite of certain innovations 
in method to be considered later, he treats grammar as an art. The 
true nature of grammar had apparently not even remotely suggested 
itself to Webster when in 1784 he wrote his first grammar. At that 
time his definition is : " Grammar is the Art of communicating 
thought." By 1790 the light seems to have dimly dawned upon him, 
for in the preface to his " Rudiments of Grammar " he affirms : 
" Rules are drawn from the most general and approved practice, and 
serve to teach young students how far their own practice in speaking 
agrees with the general practice." 88 In a later grammar (1831) he 
goes still further. His definition now is : U A system of general prin- 
ciples, derived from the national distinction of words, deduced from 
the customary forms of speech in the nation using that language." 89 
Here, certainly, Webster has gone far toward the modern conception 
that grammar comes after a language has been in use; that it is a 
statement of principles of usage as found in the spoken and written 
communication of the most expert. The principles of this science are 
to be found by minute analysis of wholes into parts, with consequent 

88 Alexander, op. cit., 3. 86 Brown, op. cit., 15. 

84 Murray, op. cit., 7. 8T Brightland, op. cit., 1, footnote. 

85 Webster, op. cit, 5. 88 Webster, Rudiments, 2. 
88 Webster, An Improved Gram, of the Eng. Tongue, 3. 


generalizations to establish general principles. But Webster at first 
apparently had only a mere glimmer of the truth. He treated gram- 
mar as an art of building up wholes from smaller parts. 

Finally, Goold Brown, whom we shall see even as late as 1851 the 
last prominent fighter of the old guard, still championed the concep- 
tion of grammar as an art when nearly everyone else had abandoned 
it. He said in 1823 : " Grammar is the art of speaking and writing 
the language correctly." This was the common conception held by 
grammarians up to the middle of the nineteenth century. 

The force which fastened this conception so firmly is undoubtedly 
the force of tradition. Even the word grammar is from the Greek 
gramma, a letter. These characters are the elements of written lan- 
guage, as articulate sounds are the elements of spoken language. 
Hence, from the very derivation of the word, one seems bound to 
start with the simplest elements and build up the more complex forms. 
The natural and easy way to learn had always seemed to be to pro- 
ceed from the element to the complex structure. Letters, syllables, 
words, sentences — this makes a seemingly more logical sequence than 
the reverse process. The child says " water " if he is thirsty. To-day 
it is recognized that he means a sentence — " I want water." Conse- 
quently the process of learning in both reading and writing (composi- 
tion) to-day proceeds from the whole to the part. But to attain this 
new conception has been a matter of slow and painful growth. In it 
we have come to realize that grammar, the science of sentences, is a 
matter of late study, if, indeed, it need ever be taught to children 
trained by imitation to speak and write accurately. 

The truth is that the term grammar — the art of letters — is a mis- 
nomer, considering our modern conception of the subject. However, 
our intent here is merely to state the apparent cause of the earlier 


We shall now consider how the methods of study pursued in Latin 
grammars were carried over into the study of English. In " The 
Epistle to the Reader," in all editions of Lily, we find specific recom- 
mendations as to classroom procedure. 

First, Colet urges that progress be very slow ; 90 also that there be 
liberal oral rehearsing of all parts until they be perfectly mastered 
mechanically. 91 Perfect " without book " is an expression one meets 

•° " The first and chiefest point is, that the diligent master make not the schollar haste 
too much." Lily, Epistle, 2. 

w Make him to rehearse so, that until he hath perfectly that, which is behinde, he 
suffer him not to go forwarde ; . . . the best and chiefest point ... is, that the schollar 
have in minde so perfectly that, that he hath learned, and understood it so, that not only 
it be not a stoppe for him, but also a light and helpe unto the residue that followeth." 


again and again in pedagogical discussions of the time. 92 This was 
to be accomplished by numerous repetitions, frequent rehearsals, and 
periodical examinations by the teacher. 93 

In this laborious fashion the pupil is to make himself master of 
every declension of nouns and conjugation of verbs. He is to be able 
to decline and conjugate forward and backward. 94 Until this is done 
the pupils are not allowed to go forward. 

From this mastery of paradigms the pupil is to pass to an equally 
difficult study of the " Concordes." These are to be learned with 
" plaine and sundrie examples, and continuall rehearsall of things 
learned, and especially the daily declining of the verb, and turning it 
into all fashions." 95 Schoolmasters are advised that subsequent les- 
sons will be easy if " the foregrounds be well and thoroughly beaten 
in." 96 Probably no pun was intended, but the phrase perhaps gave 
church authority for a common method of persuading reluctant pupils 
to their tasks. 

After these studies of the concords the pupil is to " learn some petty 
book containing . . . good plain lessons of honesty and godliness." 9T 
Then is to follow the translation of English sentences from the book 
into Latin and the learning of the rules of syntax which govern the 
construction. The Latin sentences are to be repeated in the words of 
the book. 98 This sets another premium upon slavish memorizing. In 
all this the pupil is never to be idle, but " alwaies occupied in a con- 
tinual rehearsing, and looking back again to those things they had 
learned." 99 Constant reviewing is the unbroken order of the day. 
Every process is based upon knowledge of the rules. 100 

•* " That they have daily some speciall exercise of the memory, by repeating somewhat 
without booke ; as a part in their rules the foure first dales of the weeke ... all the rules 
of the weeke on the Saturday." Brinsley, Ludus Literaris, 51. 

M In East Retford the first part of the morning in the first four days of the school week 
was devoted to saying over " one of the Eight Parts of Speech like as the manner and 
fashion of all grammar Schools, and upon Friday Sum es tui, with his compounds, as 
shall seem to the School-master convenient." Carlisle, op. cit., II, 282, Statutes, 1552. 

" This is all that I have used : To let them reade it (The Accedence) over every one by 
himselfe by lessons. . . . Thus I make them reade over their Accidence . . . before they 
do get it without booke. Secondly, for getting it without booke, I cause them ... to say 
it as oft as they can.' Brinsley, op. cit., 53. 

•* " Wherein it is profitable, not only that he can orderly decline his noune, and his 
verbe, but everyway, forward, backward, by cases, by persons : that neither case of noune, 
nor person of verbe can be required, that hee cannot without stoppe or studie tell. And 
unto this time I count not the schollar perfect nor readie to go any further. . . ." Lily, 
op. cit., 3. 

» B Ibid. 

*>Ibid., 3. 

"Ibid., 4. 

••"Therefore (from the book) take some little sentence, as it lieth, and learne to make 
the same out of English into Latine, not seeing the booke, or construing it there upon 
. . . which sentence well made, and as nigh as may be with the wordes of the booke." 
Lily, op. cit., 3. 

"Ibid., 4. 

ioo " jf t ne m aister give him an English booke and cause him ordinarily to turne it every 
day some part into Latine. This exercise cannot be done without his rules." Ibid., 4. 


The final step is teaching pupils to speak Latin. This is to be 
accomplished by drill until " a man is clean past the use of this gram- 
mar booke," until he is as " readie as his booke." Then he is perfected 
" in the tongue handsomely." * 

In order to determine more certainly what the classroom practices 
of the early Latin study were, we may supplement the summary of 
suggestions of Colet, in Lily, with the advice of the schoolmaster, 
Brinsley. His book was written in 1612, when Lily was most popular 
in the grammar schools. It may be taken as reliable evidence of the 
practice of his day, perhaps in the most advanced practice. In " The 
Grammar School " Brinsley devotes a chapter to the topic " How to 
make children perfect in the Accidence." The following chapters dis- 
cuss the other parts of instruction in Latin. Brinsley's exposition 
appears to be entirely consistent with Colet's, given above. He has his 
pupils (1) read over their lessons many times; (2) learn every rule, 
with title, " without booke "; (3) recite, one by one; (4) get accidence 
without book; (5) repeat the beginnings of rules in a connected title, 
" without booke " (he insists that the principal duty is to get rules 
without book) ; (6) go through weekly repetitions to prevent forget- 
ting; (7) learn very little at a time (the pupil is to be letter-perfect in 
each part before proceeding) ; and (8) answer questions in the book. 

He has the master (1) explain difficult parts, construe and show 
meanings; (2) use the question-and-answer method; (3) constantly 
call for examples of rules — the examples given in the book; (4) hear 
parts, making the pupil repeat his rule; (5) spend a month in making 
the accidence perfect; (6) give continual practice in parsing; (7) 
keep the rules in mind (by making scholars learn perfectly, constant 
repetition, continual care for parts, repeating often the summes of 
rules, applying examples) ; (8) endeavor to make the grammar a dic- 
tionary in their minds; (9) apply a prescribed formula for constru- 
ing (construe the vocative first, the principal verb next, then the 
adverb, then the case which the verb governs, and, last, the substantive 
and adjective) ; (10) hear them parse every word as they construe, 
accompanying the parsing with rule and example; (11) follow by 
theme writing and verse making; and (12) give constant practice in 
the upper forms in speaking Latin. 2 

1 An interesting pedagogical doctrine, certainly sound, appears paradoxically in the 
midst of this insistence upon minute mastery of details. It is a caution against mere rote 
memorizing. " This when he can perfectly doe, and hath learned every point, not by rote 
but by reason, and is cunninger in the understanding of the thing, than in rehearsing of 
the words . . ." Lily, op. cit., 3. Thus as early as 1541, at least, was uttered a protest 
against what was to be for nearly three centuries the curse of all grammar teaching in 
the mother tongue. 

•Brinsley, op. cit., 53-145. 


In this list the endeavor has been to select 20 of the leading prin- 
ciples of instruction advocated by Philoponus, the character in Brins- 
ley's dialogue, who represents the better type of teaching. 3 In some 
cases the suggestions have been taken from the mouth of Spondeus, 
the representative in the dialogue of the poorer teachers of his day. 

To the testimony of Colet and Brinsley may be added the practices 
of Roger Ascham in teaching Latin grammar, as set forth in " The 
Schoolmaster," 1563. 

(A) Preparatory: Learn perfectly the eight parts of speech and 
the joining together of substantives with adjectives, verbs with nouns, 
relatives with antecedents. 

(B) Double translation: 1. The master is to construe the model 
book for the child that he may understand. 

2. Then the pupil is to parse and construe, as the master has done 
for him, often enough for the pupil to understand. 

3. The lesson is to be translated into English in a paper book. 

4. After an hour he is to translate his English back into the Latin 
in another paper book. 

5. The master is to examine these translations and lead the pupil 
until he is able " to fetch out of his grammar every Bule for every 
example ; so as the grammar book be ever in the scholar's hands, and 
also used of him as a Dictionary for every present Use." 

6. The master is to compare the pupil's Latin with the original in 
the model book. 

" With this way of good Understanding the matter, plain constru- 
ing, diligent parsing, cheerful admonishing, and heedful amending 
of Faults; never leaving behind just praise for well doing: I would 
have the Scholar brought up." 

(C) Analysis: 1. Give him longer lessons to translate. "Begin 
to teach him, both in Nouns and Verbs, what is Proprium, and what is 
Translabum (figurative), what Synonym, what Diversion, which be 
Contraria, and which be most notable Phrases, in all his Lecture 

2. Let him write four of these forenamed six diligently marked 
out of every lesson in a third paper book. 4 

(D) Reading: 1. "I would have him read now, a good deal at 
every Lecture, some book of Cicero, Caesar, etc." 

2. " He shall now use daily Translation, but only construe again 
and parse. ... Yet let him not omit in these Books his former 
Exercise, in mastering diligently and writing orderly." 

8 An admirable statement of the methods used in the grammar schools in 1818 appears 
in Carlisle, " Endowed Grammar School," 1818, 828-30. It begins : " When the Pupil has 
committed to memory. The Accidence, Propria quae maribus, etc. . . , The account 
tallies in very many details with the methods laid down by Colet and Brinsley, and indi- 
cates that Latin instruction had remained in scope and method relatively stable for three 
hundred years. 

* Ascham, The Schoolmaster, Mayor, 1-9. 


3. The master is to translate some easy Latin into good English, 
the pupil to translate it into Latin again. 

4. The master is to compare the pupiPs work with the original. 
(E) Third kind of translation: 1. The master is to write some 

letter in English, as if from the boy's father, or copy some fable. 
2. The pupil is to translate it into Latin. 5 



" The book itself will make anyone a grammarian." Thus spoke 
Goold Brown in his grammar of 1823. 6 His statement fittingly char- 
terizes the attitude of teachers and writers 7 throughout the entire 
course of English grammar down to 1823, and, unfortunately, the 
same attitude has not entirety disappeared to-day. We have just seen 
a summary of methods used in teaching Latin grammar. We now 
turn to the task of showing that they were carried over directly into 
English in the spirit voiced by Goold Brown as late as 1823. 


This principle is worthy of mention first because it underlies almost 
all of the methods to be considered later. We have seen that Colet, in 
his " Epistle," asserts that " the first and chiefest point is, that the 
diligent Maister make not the scholar haste too much " and that he 
make him get " perfectly that which is behind " before " he suffer 
him to go forwards." 8 Brinsley supports this plan. The children 
are first to get their letters, then to spell, then to join syllables 
together, then to go through the A B C's and primer, etc. 9 To be sure, 

6 Ibid., 92. 

8 Brown, op. cit., preface, VII. 

7 The efforts of the past century to break away from the Latin methods are reserved for 
the following chapter. In the preceding section were shown various supplementary 
devices, parallel reading, dictation, copy books, writing exercises, oral work, dating back 
to Brinsley, Ascham, Hoole, and Colet. In both the Latin instruction and the first 
vernacular instruction these devices were strictly subordinated to the great triumvirate of 
methods — memorization, parsing, and false syntax. They remained strictly subordinate 
and incidental until about 1850. But during the century preceding *850 the use of 
" petty books " gradually evolved into the study of English literature ; dictation, the use 
of copy books, and writing exercises by a similar process of evolution became composition 
as we now know it, and the simple oral exercises of the earlier day became oral composi- 
tion of the present. The practice of orations and disputations in Latin, common in both 
grammar schools and colleges before English entered the curriculum, was very influential 
in bringing these exercises into English schools. 

The process of evolution was but partially completed by 1850, because literature, com- 
position, and oral work were all subordinate to grammar. Beginning about 1850 evolu- 
tion has made these branches of the vernacular more robust. The best school practice of 
to-day makes grammatical study strictly subordinate to them. The point is that since 
1850 this complete reversal between grammar, on the one hand, and vernacular branches, 
on the other, has taken place. 

This statement, anticipating discussion not covered by this thesis, has been made here 
in order to place the extremely Latinized methods of the Latin and rote periods in sharp 
contrast with the best methods of to-day. 

•Lily, op. cit., 2. 

• Brinsley, op. cit., 15 et seq. 


he is in this instance speaking of learning to read ; but it makes the 
inference all the more inevitable. In all studies the method was 
from the part to the whole, each part to be mastered perfectly in 
order. The pupil reads over and over the small part of the text 
assigned, forward and backward, until mechanically perfect. 10 

In the beginning of the eighteenth century Brightland and Green- 
wood (1706 and 1712) urge for English grammar exactly the same 
procedure. 11 The former describes his method. " We begin with 
what is first to be learnt, that what follows may be understood ; and 
proceed thus step by step, till we come to the last and most difficult, 
and which depends on all that goes before it." 12 

Greenwood also indicates the mastery of part by part : 

And every Body must readily grant that the Way to come to a true and clear 
Knowledge of any Art, is to explain Things unknown, by Things that are 
known. 13 

In the middle of the century, also, the author of the British Gram- 
mar explains the steps of a recitation : 

Spell every word of the lesson, by syllables; give the signification of each 
word; state the part of speech, with reasons, etc. 14 After the Scholars know 
their Letters ground them well in their Monosyllables with the soft and hard 
Sounds of C and G. This they will soon learn from Word of Mouth, by frequent 
Repetition. . . , 15 

Sewell, toward the end of the century, assigns " small portions to 
be got by heart," 16 and Brown, 1823, still continues the practice. " In 
etymology and syntax, he should be alternately exercised in learning 
small portions of his book and then applying them in parsing, till the 
whole is rendered familiar." 17 

The evidence thus presented is in strict accord with the textbook 
matter of all grammars. So long as orthography, etymology, syntax, 
and prosody were considered the four divisions of grammar, so long 
as it was thought of as an art, a whole to be built up " mosaic-like out 
of paradigms and syntax rules "; 18 so long as schoolmasters in gen- 
eral remained woefully ignorant and were competent only " to hear " 
recitations, verbatim, about matters they little understood, 19 just so 
long this procedure, tedious and slow, from part to part, was fastened 

*>rbid., 19. 

11 This is in exact accord with the educational theory of Herbart : " In the case of all 
essential elementary information — knowledge of grammar, arithmetic, and geometry — it 
will be found expedient to begin with the simplest elements long before any practical 
application is made. ' Herbart, Outlines. 129. 

12 Brightland, preface, 7th page (pages unnumbered in text). 

13 Greenwood, preface, 2. 
"British, preface, XIV. 
18 Fisher, preface, IX. 

16 Sewell, preface, VI. 

17 Brown, preface, VI. 

18 W. D. Widgery, quoted by Watson, Gram. Sch., 285. 

19 See Resolutions of Germantown School Committee, Chap. II, p. 28. 


upon the schools. The evidence presented shows little or no progress 
from Lily (1510) to Brown (1823). 


Of course, this fundamental principle — mastering each part in 
order — could give but one meaning for the term mastering; it was 
slavish memorizing, nothing more nor less. 

Colet and Brinsley insist that rules are to be learned and repeatedly 
rehearsed until pupils can " say them without book." This, says 
Brinsley, is one of the chief points aimed at. 

To teach scholars to say without book all the usual necessary rules; to 
construe the Grammar rules; to give the meaning, use, and order of the rules; 
to shew the examples, and to apply them; which being well performed, will 
make all other learning easie and pleasant. 20 

He insists that the master is to have some exercise of the memory 
daily 21 and that — 

in hearing parts, aske them first the chiefe question or questions of each rule in 
order ; then make them every one say his rule or rules, and in all rules of con- 
struction, to answere you in what words the force of the example lyeth, both 
governour and governed. 22 

Moreover, both Philoponus and Spoudeus agree that this perfect 
memorizing is the principal method of procedure. Spondeus : " Oh, 
but this is a matter, that is most accounted of with us ; to have them 
very perfect in saying all their Grammar without booke, even every 
rule." Philoponus : " To this I answere you ; that this indeede is 
one principall thing." 23 This is to be accomplished as follows. 
Spoudeus : " I have onely used to cause my Schollers to learne it with- 
out booke, and a little to construe it ... by oft saying Parts." 24 

Greenwood, though advanced somewhat, indicates also the memo- 
rizing method. He has a device which avoids the necessity of learning 
every word of the text. Passages most necessary to be learned at the 
first going over are marked by an asterisk or star (*). "By what is 
to be learned, and what passed by, the discretion of the teacher will 
better determine." 25 

That the year 1750 had shown little progress is indicated by Dil- 
worth, who, speaking of learning to spell, holds against spelling by 
ear. " There can be no true Method of Spelling without Rule." 2e 
The British Grammar advises that " it will redound to a Scholar's 
Advantage to begin the Repetition of the Grammar as soon as he can 
read it." 27 Lowth, too, agrees as to learning grammar. 

80 Brinsley, op. cit., 74. * Ibid., 70. 

81 Ibid., 51. 25 Greenwood, preface, 5. 
22 Ibid., 69. 2 «Dilworth, preface, VIII. 
88 Ibid., 85. "British, preface, III. 

60258°— 22 8 


The principal design of a Grammar of any Language is to teach us to express 
ourselves with propriety in that Language. The plain way of doing this is to 
lay down rules, and to illustrate them by examples. 28 

And Brown, in 1823, again shows the close adherence to the method 
of centuries before: 

The only successful method of teaching grammar is, to cause the principal 
definitions and rules to be committed thoroughly to memory, that they may ever 
afterwards be readily applied. 29 

In 1767 Buchanan, in his " Kegular English Syntax," says: 

Let them first spell this exercise (some good English classic) off by giving 
the rules of spelling ; next the various significations of the word ; let them give 
account of the parts of speech one by one, applying the rule of syntax. 30 

A commentator on the methods of studying grammar in 1810 thus 
describes a schoolroom scene: 

We learned the first six lines (Young Ladies' Accidence) which contained the 
names of the ten " sorts of words " and recited them at least 20 times to our 
neighbors; but, when called to the master's desk to recite them, our minds 
became a perfect blank. We stood mute and trembling . . . and were con- 
demned to stand on a box with our face to the wall, till we could recite the 
lesson. Of course, we hated English grammar from that day forward. 31 

The famous Asa Rand comments on methods of his boyhood about 

In the period of my boyhood we had strange notions of the science of gram- 
mar. We did not dream of anything practical or applicable to the languge we 
were using every day till we had " been through " the grammar several times 
and parsed several months. Why? Because we were presented at once with a 
complete set of definitions and rules which might perplex a Murray or Webster 
without any development of principles, any illustrations we could understand, 
any application of the words to objects which they represent. We supposed 
that the dogmas of our " gram books " were the inventions of learned men, 
curious contrivances to carry the words of a sentence through a certain opera- 
tion which we called parsing, rather for the gratification of curiosity than for 
any practical benefit. The rule in grammar would parse the word, ... as the 
rule in arithmetic would " do the sum " and " give the answer." And with such 
exploits we were satisfied. Great was our admiration for the inventive power 
of those great men, v who had been the lights of the grammatical world. 32 

Also one more witness as to the practice of memory work, after the 
Lancastrian system was in vogue : 

In those days we studied grammar by committing a portion of a small book 
(Accidence) to memory and reciting it to the teacher. If he was engaged, the 
lesson was recited to one of the highest class. . . . The rule was that the whole 
book should be recited literally, three times, before the pupils were allowed to 
apply a word of it in parsing sentences, and as no explanation was ever made of 

28 Lowth, preface, X. 

29 Brown, VI. 

80 Quoted in Ed. Rev., XII, 491. 

31 C. S. J. (1850), 74. 

83 See Am, Ann. of Ed, and Ins. (1833), 162, 


any principle the pupil was as well qualified as the teacher to hear the words 
repeated. 83 

William Ward, a schoolmaster of 30 years' standing, author of "A 
Practical Grammar," gives a minute description of the method used 
in his school about 1780, the public grammar school at Beverley, in 
the county of York, England : 

Our Way of using the Book is this: if a child has not learned any Thing of 
the Latin Declensions and Conjugations, we make him get the English Forms 
by heart ; if otherwise, we make him read the English Forms several times over, 
till he remembers them in a good measure; then we hear him read the Descrip- 
tions of the several parts of speech; and after he has done so, and has some 
notion of the Meaning of each, we oblige him for some weeks to read three or 
four Sentences twice or thrice a Day, in an easy English Book, and to tell the 
Part of Speech to which each word belongs. When the Child is pretty ready 
at distinguishing the Parts of Speech, we make him get by heart the Rules of 
Concord in Verse, and teach him how to apply them, by resolving the Sentences 
in some English Book. When this is done, we make him write out several of 
the other rules, and get them by heart, and shew him how to apply them like- 
wise, by parsing, or resolving what he reads by these Rules. And thus by 
Degrees, children become Masters of all the material Parts of the Book without 
much Difficulty." 

The educational literature of America concerning this period (1750- 
1823) is filled with evidence that memorizing methods predominated 
practice. Wickersham quotes a master of 1730 who said : " I find no 
way that goes beyond that of repeating, both in spelling, reading, 
writing, and cyphering." 35 A school boy of 1765 records that " at 
six .... I learned the English grammar in Dilworth by heart." 36 In 
1780 Principal Pearson, of Phillips Andover, testifies that " a class 
of thirty repeats a page and a half of Latin Grammar ; then follows 
the Accidence Tribe, who repeat two, three, four, five, and ten pages 
each." 37 A Princeton college youth of 1799 wrote his brother, " com- 
mitted to memory verbatim 50 pages of English Grammar." 38 Before 
the Revolution what little grammar was taught in Boston was con- 
fined almost entirely to committing and reciting rules. 39 

W. B. Fowle, a prominent schoolman of Boston, says of the schools 
of 1795 : " Pupils at our school were required to learn Bingham's 
Young Ladies' Accidence by heart three times. . . . We were two or 
three years in grammar." 40 Murray, author of the grammar most 
widely used, announced that in later editions he had been careful to 
rephrase his definitions smoothly, that they might be memorized and 

83 C. S. J. (1850), 337. 

34 Ward, English Grammar, preface. X. 

35 Wickersham, op. cit., 214. 

36 C. S. J. (1850), 3. 

3T Quoted, Brown, Mid. Sch„ 262. 

88 Correspondence quoted in full. Snow, Col. Cur., 116. 
39 Herman Humphrey, Am. J. of Ed., XIII, 127. 
*°C. S. J. (1850), 5. 



retained more easily. 41 The minutes of the trustees of Oyster Ba 
Academy, New York, prescribe the memorizing method as follows: 
"(1) The Monitor, to be read daily as the last lesson; (2) Webster's 
Grammar, to be read or repeated from memory; (3) The Testament 
or Bible, to be read . . ." 42 

The evidence seems to indicate that the slavish memorization of 
rules, centuries old in schoolroom practice, had made but little prog- 
ress from the time of Lily to Goold Brown. It w T as carried with all its 
terrors directly into the study of English grammar. 43 


As complete memorization was the order of the day it is not surpris- 
ing to find teachers endeavoring to find devices to aid the pupils in 
this arduous task. So far we have found records of five distinct 
devices tending to accomplish this purpose. 

The first is constant repetition. Colet insists on daily defining 
rules ; 44 Brinsley strongly urges repetitions. 45 Teachers of the eight- 
eenth century continued the practice of strengthening memory by 
constant repetition. The British Grammar urges masters to have 
their pupils repeat the entire grammar in portions once a month, 46 
and Sewell especially requires of his pupils frequent repetitions of 
paradigms. 47 

The second device is rhyming. We have already referred to Brins- 
ley's plan of having pupils read the rules in meter. Rules of polite- 
ness in verse were old in Latin and were common in English; for 

41 Murray, 12. 

42 Fitzpatrick, Ed. Views and Inf. of D. Clinton, 22. 

43 An interesting proof of memorization is found in the copy of Alger's Murray, used by 
the writer, the stereotyped edition of 1825. The book belonged to one George A. Severing ; 
his signature is dated Roxbury, December, 1828. Evidently his teacher had not been satis- 
fled with Murray's definition of grammar and had dictated the following substitute : 
" Grammar teaches the arrangement of words according to the idiom or dialect of any 
particular people, and that excellency of pronunciation which enables us to speak and 
write a language agreeable to reason and correct usages." This is an unusually good 
definition for 1828 and indicates that this teacher was moving toward the modern concep- 
tion of the science. But young Severins has written this definition out in full four times 
on the fly leaves and the blank pages at the end of the book, evidently making sure that 
he is letter-perfect. 

Samuel G. Goodrich, telling of his boyhood school days in Ridgefield, Conn., about 1785, 
says : " The grammar was a clever book. . . . Neither Master Stebbins nor his scholars 
ever fathomed its depths. They floundered about in it, as if in a quagmire, and after 
some time came out of it pretty nearly as they went in, though perhaps a little obfusticated 
by the dim and dusty atmosphere of those labyrinths." Am. J. of Ed., XIII, 139. 

44 Lily, preface, 3. 

45 " No evening is to be passed without some little exercise against the morning." 
Brinsley, op. cit, 164. " To imprint it by repetition the next morning, together with their 
evening exercises." Ibid., 152. A fuller explanation is given by Brinsley of insuring ease 
in remembering rules : Make the scholars learn them perfectly ; give frequent repetition ; 
instill continual care for parts; examine them daily; when parsing, turn every hard rule 
to use ; in higher forms give repetition less often. Ibid., 85. Brinsley also mentions two 
subdevices. He would have the pupils mark their books, copying from the teacher's book, 
to assist memory (ibid., 141) and would have them " read the rules over in a kind of 
singing voice after the manner of running of the verse." Ibid., 73. 

«• British, preface, III. « Sewell, preface, VIII. 


example, in " The Schoole of Vertue," 48 Brinsley, speaking of verse, 
says : " To reade them over in a kinde of singing voice after the run- 
ning of the verse. . . ." 49 Only two of the grammars here inten- 
sively studied adopt the method of rhyming for rules — Brightland's 
and Ward's. The former asserts that he has " put all the Rules 
into as smooth and sonorous Verse as the Nature of the Subject 
wou'cl bear ... to give them the greater Light." He adds an ex- 
planation in prose following the Jesuit Alvarus in his Latin gram- 
mar " which is used in all the Schools of Europe, except England." 
Brightland maintains that " verse is more easily learnt ; that Rhimes 
help, one end recalling the other." These lessen the burden to mem- 
ory. 50 In Ward's Grammar rules are^put in verses that rhyme, with a 
repetition in prose of what each rule contains. For the 35 rules of 
syntax Ward has 170 verses. 

The third device to assist memory is the use of examples. Brinsley 
goes so far as to insist that in recitations the example is to be given 
with " his " rule. 51 He further makes them give examples : 
Apply examples to rules; learn every rule perfectly as they go forward; read 
them over their rule leisurely and distinctly; construe the rules and apply 
examples for them ; learn all the rules until the pupil can " beate it out of 
himselfe." ra 

This is a common practice in all the more elaborate grammars. Lowth 
especially makes point of illustrative examples accompanying each 
rule. 53 

The fourth device was selection of parts. The first textbook maker 
who desired to relieve memory by proper selection of parts to be 
memorized was Greenwood. In his grammar he distinguished the 
more important parts by printing them in larger type. Fisher did 
not desire his pupils to be troubled with learning the exceptions to 
rules. 54 Herein we find further evidence that it had been the prac- 
tice to require the learning by heart of rules, examples, and exceptions. 
Murray uses the same device as Greenwood, commenting on the value 
of selections as follows : 

The more important rules, definitions, and observations, and which are there- 
fore the most proper to be committed to memory, are printed in larger type; 
whilst rules and remarks that are of less importance, that extend or diversify 
the general idea, or that serve as explanations, are contained in the small 
letter. 86 

The fifth device is very old, namely, the question and an wer. Haz- 
litt says that he has small volumes on cookery and gardening of the 
Middle Ages which are thrown into the interlocutory form, the most 
apt to impress names on the minds of the pupils. 56 He also gives a 

«Eggleston, op. cit., 214. 
"Brinsley, op. cit, 73. 
60 Brightland, preface, VI. 
"Brinsley, op. cit., 82. 
"Ibid., 70-1. 

53 Lowth, preface, X. 

54 Fisher, preface, X. 
68 Murray, preface, 1. 

"Hazlitt, Sch. Books and Sch. Masters, 28. 



series of rules and exercises in the form of question and answer in 
textbook of 1509. 57 Brinsley advocates this method, but has Philop 
nus complain concerning books of this character — that he has bee 
compelled to leave off entirely ; that none are suitable ; therefore h 
has made one for himself " having all the Questions and Answers 
arising most directly out of the words of the Rules." 58 

Of the 12 grammars here studied five retain the question-and 
answer method — Greenwood's, Dilworth's, Fisher's, the British, and 
Priestley's. About the end of the eighteenth century the device seems 
to have gone largely out of vogue. Priestley says : " I have retained 
the method of question and answer . . . because I am still persuaded 
it is both the mOst convenient f or, the master and the most intelligible 
to the scholar." 59 However, the question-and-answer method never 
had wide vogue in American grammatical textbooks; none of the 
important grammars which followed Murray seems to have used it. 
None of the Murray texts, nor Bingham's, nor Brown's, make use of 
it. About the only signs of advance made by American grammarians 
before 1800 are, first, the discarding of the question and answer, and, 
second, the simplification of the elaborate texts into the form of 
Bingham's Young Ladies' Accidence, Alexander's Grammar, and 
Webster's Rudiments. 


Quite in line with the devices enumerated above is the contention, 
constantly repeated by the various text-writers, that they are simpli- 
fying terms for the ease of the pupils.. Brightland and his follower, 
Fisher, have, indeed, some right to make this contention. They dis- 
carded the four Latin main divisions — orthography, etymology, syn- 
tax, and prosody — and substituted letters, words, and sentences 
instead. Moreover, they call nouns, names; pronouns, pronames; 
adjectives, qualities ; verbs, actions. They attempt to give definitions 
and explanations simply. Brightland waxes quite indignant. He 
claims " glorious improvements," complains against Greenwood and 
others for not following him in his previous edition. 60 " Little Prog- 
ress they made in a Discovery that had so fairly been laid before them 
by Dr. Wallis and Ourselves : For Custom has so strong a Force on 
the Mind, that it passes with the bulk of Mankind for Reason and 
Sacred Truth." 61 Murray insists that he phrases his rules exactly 
and comprehensively; also that they may readily be committed to 
memory and easily retained. 62 For this purpose he has selected terms 

"Ibid., 90. 

68 Brinsley, op. cit., 87. 

69 Priestley, preface, VI. 

60 Brightland's first edition was 1706, Greenwood's 1711. 

61 Brightland, preface, I. 
68 Murray, preface, 4. 


that are " smooth and voluble ; has proportioned the members of one 
sentence to another; has avoided protracted periods and given 
harmony to the expression of the whole." 63 

Priestley's argument for simplicity is convincing : 

I have also been so far from departing from the simplicity of the plan of that 
short grammar (his first edition) that I have made it in some respects, still 
more simple; and I think, on that account, more suitable to the genius of the 
English language. I own I am surprised to see so much of the distribution, and 
technical terms of the Latin grammar, retained in the grammar of our tongue; 
where they are exceedingly awkward, and absolutely superfluous; being such 
as could not possibly have entered into the head of any man, who had not been 
previously acquainted with Latin. Indeed this absurdity has, in some measure, 
gone out of fashion with us; but still so much of it is retained, in all the 
grammars I have seen, as greatly injures the uniformity of the whole; and the 
very same reason that has induced several grammarians to go so far as they 
have done, should have induced them to have gone farther. A little reflection 
may, I think, suffice to convince any person, that we have no more business with 
a future tense in our language, than we have for the whole system of Latin 
moods and tenses; because we have no modification of our verbs to correspond 
to it ; and if we had never heard of a future tense in some other language, we 
should no more have given a particular name to the combination of the verb 
with the auxiliary shall or will, than to those that are made with the auxiliaries 
do, have, can, must, or any other. 

It seems wrong to confound the account of inflections either with the gram- 
matical uses of the combinations of words, of the order in which they are 
placed, or of the words which express relations and which are equivalent to 
inflections in other languages. I can not help flattering myself that future 
grammarians will owe me some obligations for introducing this uniform 
simplicity, so well suited to the genius of our languages, into the English 

Priestly bases his revolt against the Latin grammar upon another 
argument, which was decidedly new in his day, contending that the 
" only just standard of any language " is the custom and modes of 
speaking it. He revolts against leaning too much on analogies in 
language. He says: 

I think it is evident that all other grammarians have leaned too much to the 
analogies of that language (Latin) contrary to our modes of speaking. ... It 
must be allowed that the custom of speaking is the original and only just stand- 
ard of any language. We see, in all grammars, that this is sufficient to estab- 
lish a rule, even contrary to the strongest analogies of the language with itself. 
Must not custom, therefore, be allowed to have some weight in favor of those 
forms of speech to which our best writers and speakers seem evidently prone? ** 


One final method, frequently urged by good teachers, was the 
setting of a good example and the careful explanation by the teacher 
of doubtful points. Colet urges that masters must set a good 

" Ibid. 

«* Priestley, preface, VII-IX. 


example. 65 Brinsley has the master read and explain difficult parts 
of the lesson ; 66 has the pupils read parts after the master has read ; 67 
shows how the lecture method arose by lack of books ; 68 and has them 
parse in imitation of the master. 69 Greenwood gives as the reason 
why youth have found grammar " irksome, obscure, and difficult," 
" partly through the Want of having every Thing explained and 
cleared up to their Understanding as they go along." 70 The author of 
the British Grammar explains what was doubtless the practice of the 
better masters about 1750 ; he indicates a distinct advance in method. 
In this respect the author is shown as an innovator. 

The Method I take, and I find it so far effectual to the End proposed, is, having 
got what I judged to be the best Book of Letters, I make several young Gentle- 
men stand up and read a Letter gracefully; after which I read it to them 
myself, making observations on the Sentiment and the Style, and asking their 
Opinions with Respect to both. n 

This admirable practice was found only in the better schoolrooms. 
We shall see the movement for " oral explanation " as a part of the 
educational revival led by Horace Mann. 72 


We come now to the other two of the great triumvirate of methods 
carried over from the Latin to the English grammar — parsing and 
false syntax. Brinsley complains that " there is so much time spent 
in examining everything " (parsing) ; nevertheless, he insists that his 
pupils parse as they construe. 

Ask the child what word he must begin to parse (Principal word). 78 ... In the 
several forms and Authors to construe truly, and in propriety of words and 
sense, to parse of themselves and to give a right reason of every word why it 
must be so, and not otherwise. . . . Parse over every word; teach what part 
of speech, how to decline it. give a true reason for every word, why it must 
be so. M 

Brinsley's elaborate method of procedure is as follows : The scholar 
is to read the sentence before he construes; mark all the points 
(punctuation) in it; mark words beginning with great letters; under- 
stand the matter ; mark the vocative case ; seek out the principal verb ; 
give every clause his right verb; supply wanting words; give every 
word his " proper signification "; join the substantive and adjective; 
mark if the sentence have an interrogation point. 75 

65 Lily, op. cit., 2. 70 Greenwood, preface, II. 

60 Brinsley, op. cit., 74. 71 British, preface, XXVIII. 

87 Ibid., 99. " See Chap. VI, p. 146. 

68 Ibid., 53. « Brinsley, op. cit, 127. 

69 Ibid., 41. "Ibid., 125. 

76 Ibid., 95. This is a careful examination of the nature of the sentence which does not 
come into the practice of American schools until well down into the nineteenth century. 
Green's Analysis of 1848 did much to throw the emphasis previously given to dry 
formalism in grammar to the analysis of sentences. See Chap. VII. 


An example of " praxis " or " grammatical resolution," the system 
of torture called parsing, which lasted well toward the end of the 
nineteenth century, may be taken from Lindley Murray's books: 

The sentence : 

And he came into all the country about Jordan preaching the baptism of 
repentance for the remission of sins. The Resolution : And, a Conjunction 
Copulative: he, a Pronoun, third Person Singular, Masculine Gender, Nomina- 
tive Case, standing for John: came, as before: into, a Preposition: all, an 
Adjective: the Country, a Substantive: about, a Preposition; Jordan, a Proper 
Name ; preaching, the Present Participle of the verb Active to preach joined 
like an adjective to the Pronoun he : the baptism, a Substantive in the Objective 
Case following the Active verb Preaching, and governed by it, etc. 78 

It requires but a glance at the contents of the grammars which 
began instruction of the subject in America to see how this formalism 
of parsing reigned supreme. The British Grammar believes in pars- 
ing every word ; 77 Murray advertises a new system of parsing. 78 
Goolcl Brown was perhaps the most ardent champion of parsing in 
America. He explains the philosophy of the exercise in this : 

[It is] neither wholly extemporaneous, nor wholly by rote; it has more dignity 
than a school boy's conversation, and more ease than a formal recitation. The 
exercise in parsing commences immediately after the first lesson of etymology, 
and is carried on progressively until it embraces all the doctrines that are 
applicable to it. . . . It requires just enough of thought to keep the mind 
attentive to what tbe lips are uttering; while it advances by such easy gradua- 
tions and constant repetitions as to leave the pupil utterly without excuse, if he 
does not know what to say. 79 

Brown further insists that in the entire range of school exercises, 
while there is none of greater importance than parsing, yet, perhaps, 
there is none which is, in general, more defectively conducted. 
Brown's grammars are the culmination of the series of parsing gram- 
mars; in the last chapter we have seen them in use quite extensively 
in the academies of New York as late as 1870. 80 Brown champions 
parsing on one ground which has an entirely modern ring. He wishes 
to have the child given something to do as well as something to learn. 81 

Elaborate formulas of procedure reduce all to a system, so that by 
rote correcting and parsing the whole process may be made easy. 
This makes the exercise free from all embarrassment, which is con- 
ducive to proficiency in language. Says this master of parsing : 

The pupil who can not perform these exercises both accurately and fluently 
. . . has no right to expect from anybody a patient hearing. A slow and falter- 
ing rehearsal ... is as foreign from parsing or correcting as it is from elegance 
of diction. Divide and conquer is the rule here, as in many cases. Begin with 
what is simple; practice it until it becomes familiar and then proceed. No 
cbild ever learned to speak by any other process. Hard things become easy by 
use, and skill is gained little by little. 82 

»• Murray, 47. 80 See Chap. IV. 

" British, preface, VI. 81 Brown, preface, V. 

« Murray, preface, 6. M Brown, Gram of Gram., preface, V. 

T9 Brown, preface, VI. 


This in a nutshell is the philosophy of grammar from Lily down to 
almost 1900. Grammar is the art of speaking and writing the English 
language ; the child learns to speak by getting first the elements. A 
constant process of dividing wholes into parts, even to the letters as a 
starting point, is the natural and logical method for teachers who will 
start their pupils rightly. As written and spoken language is accom- 
plished by the putting together of parts, so the taking of them apart 
is the initial step of the learning process. Parsing and correcting 
involve this extremely analytical philosophy. Therefore they are 
the best methods of learning. Moreover, parsing is looked upon as a — 

critical exercise in the utterance as well as of evidence of previous study. . . . 
It is an exercise for all the powers of the mind, except the inventive faculty. 
Perception, judgment, reasoning, memory, and method are indispensable. . . . 
Nothing is to be guessed at, or devised, or uttered at random. 83 

Here we have the second step in the logical process of the parsing 
enthusiasts. The first rests on the natural analytical process as the 
basis of learning the parts of complicated wholes. The second is the 
logical result of the old faculty psychology. The powers of the mind, 
in order to be trained in the extremest sense of formal discipline, are 
exercised by the analytical procedure of tearing wholes into parts. 
This applies to all of the powers of the mind except invention, which 
is supposed to be a constructive, not an analytical, process. The 
reduction of parsing to strict models makes certain the elimination of 
invention on the part of the pupil. There is little doubt that the 
statement of Goold Brown, cited above, is the essence of the peda- 
gogical thinking which regarded grammar as " the disciplinary study 
par excellence." It is a result in large part of the reign of faculty 
psychology and formal discipline. 


The practices of the Latin and the rote periods added another bane 
to schoolboy life, namely, the correction of false syntax. This 
appears to have been generally introduced about the middle of the 
eighteenth century, the first to use it being Fisher and the author of 
the British Grammar. These writers are followed by all the others 
in our series, each seeming to be more convinced of the pedagogical 
value of the exercise than any of his predecessors. The author of the 
British Grammar asserts that his book is " differently planned," 84 
because it offers " promiscuous exercises in false syntax, both in verse 
and in prose." 85 He also urges the master to deceive his pupils by 
reading wrongly. 86 Fisher also urges the master to " read falsely," 8T 

« Ibid. 86 Ibid., XV. 

•* British, preface, I. 87 Fisher, preface, XII. 

wibid., III. 


to keep the pupils alert, and defends himself for putting his exercises 
in false syntax in a separate part of his book instead of scattering 
them " promiscuously " throughout the text. 88 

Lowth believes in teaching " what is right, by showing what is 
wrong." He thinks there is no English grammar which sufficiently 
performs this duty, though it may prove " the more useful and effec- 
tual method of instruction." 89 Two examples of Lowth's false syntax 
follow : 

Rule : The article, a, can only be joined to Substantives in the Singular 
number. A good character should not be rested in as an end, but employed as a 
means of doing still further good. (Atterbury's Sermons.) Ought it not be a 
mean? I have read an author of this taste, that compares a ragged coin to a 
tattered colours. (Addison on Medals.) ^ 

The foregoing amusing example of extreme emphasis put upon a 
perfectly trivial point is especially ludicrous, because Lowth is wrong. 
Both the sentences from Atterbury and Addison are correct; in the 
first, means is a singular noun ; in the second " colours," meaning flag, 
is also singular. 

The other example has to do with choose, chose, chosen : 

Thus having chosed each other. . . . (Clarendon. Hist., Vol. Ill, p. 797, 8vo.) 
Improperly. 91 

Lowth complains that in 200 years English had made " no advances 
in grammatical accuracy." He quotes Swift " On the imperfect State 
of our Language " — that " in many cases it offended against every 
part of Grammar." He asserts that in his day " Grammar is very 
much neglected," and fills the bottom of nearly every page with foot- 
notes of what he terms proof a that our best authors have committed 
gross mistakes for want of due knowledge of English Grammar." 
Lowth assures us that these examples " are such as occurred in read- 
ing, without any very curious or methodical examination." It is a 
curious speculation, then, as to why Lowth advocates so vigorously 
the teaching " of what is right by showing what is wrong." It may 
be that he was eager to make use of the copious notes which he had 
doubtless been accumulating in years of reading. 92 He is impartial in 
his selection of false grammar, citing Hobbs, the Bible, the Liturgy, 
Pope, Shakespeare, Prior, Hooker, Dryden, and Addison. 93 

88 Ibid., x. 

89 Lowth, preface, X. 

90 Lowth, op. cit., 19. 

91 Ibid. 

93 Ibid., preface, I-X. 

98 " You was ... is an enormous Solecism ; and yet authors of the front rank have 
inadvertently fallen into it. ' Knowing that you was my old master's friend.' Addison, 
Spectator, No. 517. ' Would to God you was within her reach;' Lord Bolingbroke to 
Swift, letter 46, etc." In these footnotes Lowth's practice is somewhat of a deviation 
from correcting false syntax. Op. cit., 35. 


Priestley approves of Lowth's methods, as follows : 
An appendix would have been made of examples of bad English; for they are 
really useful; but they make so uncouth an appearance in print. And it can 
be no manner of trouble to any teacher to supply the worst of them, by a false 
reading of a good author, and requiring his pupils to point out, and rectify his 
mistakes. . . . M I think tbere will be an advantage in my having collected 
examples from modern writings, rather than those from Swift, Addison, and 
others, who wrote about half a century ago, in what is called the classical 
period of our tongue. By this means we see what is the real character and turn 
of the language at present ; and by comparing it with the writings of preceding 
authors, we may better perceive which way it is tending, and what extreme we 
should most carefully guard against. 91 

William Ward also commends Lowth's method : 

Very lately we have been favored with one (grammar) by the learned Dr. 
Lowth. . . . This Piece is excellent on account of his notes, in which are shewn 
the grammatic inaccuracies that have escaped the pens of our most distinguished 
Writers. This way of distinction, by showing what is wrong in English in order 
to teach us to avoid it, is necessary, because the pupils will themselves offend 
against every rule: there will be plenty of opportunity to shew them what is 
wrong. 96 

Again, we have the testimony of that high priest of parsing and 
false syntax, Goold Brown : " Scarcely less useful ... is the prac- 
tice of correcting false syntax orally, by regular and logical form of 
argument." 97 Murray also believes in the practice, as will be seen 
from the following quotation : 

From the sentiment generally admitted, that a proper selection of faulty 
composition is more instructive to the young grammarian, than any rules or 
examples of propriety that can be given, the compiler has been induced to pay 
particular attention to this part of the subject; and though the instances of 
false grammar, under the rules of Syntax are numerous, it is hoped they will 
not be found too many, when their variety and usefulness are considered. 98 

The above examples are to be corrected orally. 

Fisher thinks that he is the first to introduce English exercises in 
false syntax. He says that the practice was considered expedient in 
Latin and mentions two Latin texts of his day which have the device. 
He says : " I never observed this method recommended or prescribed 
by others." 99 It will be remembered that Fisher antedates Lowth, 
the British Grammar, and Priestley. The British Grammar improves 
on Fisher, the author of that book thinks, by scattering false syntax 
throughout the text and putting the errors in italics, not " to distract 
the learner too much." x 


There can be no doubt that the grammars which determined the 
earliest instruction in the subject in America put a premium upon the 

"Priestley, preface, XXII. 98 Murray, preface 3. 

••Ibid., XI. "Ward, op. cit, preface. IX. 

w Brown, preface, 4. • Fisher, preface, XXI. * British, preface, IV. 


three major methods of teaching we have just been considering, viz: 
Memorization of rules, parsing, and correcting false syntax. All 
three, except possibly the last, are direct inheritances from the class- 
rooms of Latin grammar, and if we can believe Fisher, as cited above, 
the latter was inherited also. We have now to consider certain minor 
methods. It must be borne in mind that grammar included in 1800 
far more than it does to-day. It was instruction in the use of the 
mother tongue, embracing many of the purposes served to-day by 
composition, rhetoric, writing, reading, euphonies, declamation, and 
the rest. 

There is constant evidence as to the use of these additional func- 
tions of grammatical instruction. We may cite, for example, emphasis 
upon the parallel study of reading from authors in the mother tongue. 
This was to be the means of becoming familiar with good writers for 
the sake of observing good grammatical construction, as well as of 
getting lessons in morality, honesty, and goodness. Many of the 
grammars have appendices with fables, prayers, catechisms, and the 
like, which were prescribed as a regular part of the study called gram- 
mar. It is by no means improbable that in these parallel readings 
we have the origin of school practices which have to-day eventuated 
in the study of the English classics. Franklin, however, seems to 
have had in mind a larger purpose in his proposals, approaching in 
1750 somewhat nearer our modern conception; that is, the English 
classics for their content as well as for literary excellence. 2 

Colet recommends the use of " prettie bookes " with " lessons of 
godlinesse and honestie." In the edition of 1627 he enjoins teachers 
to " be to them your own selves also speaking with them the pure 
Latin very present, and leave the rules." 3 

Dilworth feels that this reading will help make palatable what he 
calls " the pills of memorization." 4 The author of the British Gram- 
mar gives his pupils a taste of the poets ; 5 Fisher has the master or 
one of the scholars read to pupils from the best authors. 6 Ward uses 
the Spectator as a suitable classic and selects from easy books 
" examples for resolving," 7 while Priestley collects examples from 

2 See Chap. ITT, p. 44. 

8 " For reading of good books, diligent information of taught masters, studious advert- 
ence and taking heed of learners, hearing eloquent men speak, and finally busy imitation 
with tongue and pen, more availeth shortly to get the true eloquent speech, than all the 
traditions, rules and precepts of masters." Lily, op. cit., 3. 

4 "As Practice, in all Arts and Sciences, is the great Medium of Instruction between 
Master and Scholar. I would advise all Teachers, when they find their Learners relish the 
Rules of this Part (grammar) to enjoin them at the same time to read the best English 
Authors, as the Spectator, Tatler, Guardian, etc. . . . and banish from their eyes such 
Grubstreet Papers, idle Pamphlets, lewd Plays, filthy Songs, and unseemly Jests which 
. . . debauch the Principles." Dilworth, preface, VIII-IX. 

"British, preface. XXII. 

6 Fisher, preface, X. 

1 Ward, preface, X. 


the best authors and indicates that he, too, believes in the device. 
Later authors seem largely to have given up recommending the prac- 
tice, perhaps because formal grammar is to an extent becoming more 
confined in its scope. 

Four other methods, or classroom devices, appear quite frequently : 
Emulation, preferments, copying, and dictation. 

Brinsley is the champion of the first of these. He desires all to 
have their adversaries and to be so matched and placed that all may 
" be done by strift." 9 SeAvell has his pupils certify inaccuracies in 
each other's expressions, constantly correcting each other. 10 Brown 
passes the errors of one pupil on to the next. 11 Here we seem to find 
indication of the practice " going to the head of the line," so often 
described by our fathers. Fisher was an especially ardent advocate 
of emulation. 12 

Similar in purpose, if not quite identical in practice, is the elaborate 
system of preferments described by Brinsley. This has continued in 
all teaching up to the present day. Brinsley describes his plans for 
encouragement in this wise: Promotions to higher classes; giving 
higher places to those who do better; commending everything well 
done; giving rewards to victors in disputation and applause to the 
victors; and comparing exercises in writing books. 13 Copying might 
have been listed as a device for aiding memory. However, it seems 
to have been considered a means of stimulating interest, a sad com- 
mentary indeed upon the dry-as-dust processes which it could be 
thought to relieve. Typical advice is found in Fisher, 14 in Dilworth, 15 
and in the British Grammar, 16 urging masters to have pupils copy 
exercises in both prose and verse for their " evening copy." 

Dictation is closely akin to copying and is even more frequent in 
the recommendations of the grammarians. Brinsley strongly recom- 

8 Priestley, preface, XXIII. 

9 Brinsley, op. cit.. 50. 
10 Sewell, preface, VII, VIII. 

11 " When a boy notes an impropriety in his schoolmate's Expression, he writes down the 
Expression just as it was uttered ; then he adduces the Rule of Grammar from which the 
Expression deviates, and underneath he inserts the Expression corrected. For this Feat, 
he receives a Clap of Applause and takes his Place Superior to the Boy whose Expression 
he corrected." 

The teacher should " carefully superintend . . rehearsals : give the word to the next, 
when any one errs, and order the exercise in such a manner that either his own voice, or 
the example of the best scholars, may gradually correct the ill habits of the awkward, till 
all learn to recite with clearness, understanding well what they say, and make it 
intelligible to others." 

12 "After they are masters of letters, syllables, and words they will be able to remember 
Rules. . . . After reading they are to learn the stops and marks. . . . Employ time in 
writing Words down, whilst the Master, or one of the Scholars, reads a Paragraph from 
the Spectator . . and let all that are appointed to write, copy from his Reading, then 
to create an Emulation, compare the Pieces and place the Scholars according to the Defect 
of their Performances." Preface, IX-X. 

13 Brinsley, op. cit., 280 et seq. 
u Fisher, preface, X. 

16 Dilworth, preface, IX. 
"British, preface, IV. 


mended the practice. 17 Fisher also 18 would have pupils keep alpha- 
betical lists in pocketbooks, the use of which he constantly urges. The 
British Grammar is likewise in favor of the device. 19 Sewell has 
pupils take dictation on their slates and then the teacher corrects it. 20 
Dilworth also recommends the exercise. 21 

There remains to be noted the use of copy books, writing exercises, 
and oral work. Brinsley recommends " note books of daily use with 
inke," and requires each pupil to possess " a little paper booke to 
note all new and hard words in." 22 Fisher gives extended directions 
for the use of copy books. 23 

The British Grammar, elaborating the discussion of dictation, gives 
it the nature of a writing exercise. When a master dictates he may 
mix the rules, making the exercise as promiscuous as he chooses. Let 
a tyro " first copy the several Exercises, and then write them a second 
time from Dictation," then correct it and copy it again. The author 
advances this as a reason for making his book so short. He also com- 
mends the writing of an anonymous letter with the purpose that 
" One Exercise should be daily to write a Page of English, and after 
that to examine every word by the Grammar Rules ; and in every Sen- 
tence they have composed, to oblige them to give an Account of the 
English Syntax and Construction." 24 

Sewell requires pupils to write on their slates, and has in the appen- 
dix a chapter for practice in letter writing. 25 Ward has the study of 
grammar accompanied by the composition of short letters. 26 Brown 
gives four chapters of exercises adapted to the four parts of the sub- 
ject, which are to be written out by the learner. " The greatest 
peculiarity of the method is that it requires the pupil to speak or 
write a great deal, and the teacher very little." 27 

Fisher's book and the British Grammar are particularly emphatic 
in recommending oral work, the former making pupils pronounce 

"Brinsley. op. cit.. 46 and 124. 
18 Fisher, preface, Vi. 
"British, preface, XIII. 
20 Sewell. preface, VII. 
n Dilworth. preface. VI. 

22 Brinsley. op. cit. 46 and 124. 

23 " Let the Master write down all their mis-spelt words right in their Writing-Books, 
to be got by Heart before they leave them and withal, make each Scholar write his own 
into an Alphabetical Pocket-book kept for that Purpose." He also recommends that the 
master write misspelled words into the pupils' writing books. Perhaps we have in these 
books the germ of composition work which first came about 1750. Fisher, preface, XI. 

M British, IV, VI, XIX 

25 << ]vj ow an( j t nen as a o> n eral Exercise, I make my pupils write down on their Slates 
a select sentence, as I dictate to them ; each one keeps his Performance close to himself. 
On Examination those whose Performances appear correct, are ranked in a Superior 
Place, and to prove that they have written correctly, by Dint of Judgment, and not as 
the Effect of Chance, I make them rectify the Error of Inferior Boys, by quoting the 
Rule of Grammar, from which each Error is a Deviation." Sewell, preface, VII. The 
appendix for letter writing is on page 163 of Sewell's Grammar. 

M Ward, preface, X. 

87 Brown, preface, VI. 


orally in prosody, 28 the latter requiring them to speak every clay thei; 
unwritten thoughts. 29 


So far the endeavor has been to show how the methods of teaching 
grammar in the Latin and rote periods were, with but slight varia- 
tion, the methods used in instruction in Latin grammar. This chap- 
ter may fittingly close with a description of methods used in two 
prominent English grammar schools in New York in 1769 and 1773, 
respectively. Fortunately, Hugh Hughes and Thomas Byerley have 
left careful explanation of their methods. The description of these 
masters is also strong evidence that English grammar was coming to 
occupy in a few American schools a position very closely resembling 
that held by Latin grammar in classical schools, indeed, that identical 
methods were employed in the teaching of both. 


In 1771 Hughes modified his program, at least he so claims, to lay 
greater stress upon English. His advertisement of that year reads: 
" Orthoepy, or Just Pronunciation, which the Pupil is taught, not 
by Precept alone; but by Occular Example . . . with proper Stops, 
Emphasis, Cadence, Quantity, and a Delivery, varied and governed 
by sense." 32 

In 1771 Hughes had changed his program into that of a thorough- 
going English grammar school. On December 30 he announces: 
" The Subscriber proposes, if encouraged, to teach the English Lan- 
guage Grammatically." It is to be noted here that the method pro- 
posed is probably unfamiliar, or at least not common, in New York 
and that " if encouraged " indicates the dependence of private-school 
men upon the desires of patrons, of which concerning his new proposal 
he is somewhat in doubt. Hughes thus describes his methods : 

When the pupil can read fluently and write a Legible Hand he shall be taught 
the English Accidence, 88 or the Properties of the Parts of Speech, as divided and 
explained by the latest and most eminent English Grammarians; that is Dr. 
Lowth, Dr. Priestley, and others. 

After which he will be taught to parse disjunctively, then modally, and 
instructed in the Rules of English Syntax : and, when he is sufficiently skilled 
in them, to account for the Construction of Sentences in General, he will receive 
Lessons of False Spelling and Irregular Concord, etc., taken from some classic 
Authors, but rendered ungrammatical for the Purpose of trying his Judgment. 
When he has reduced these as near the Original as his Knowledge of Grammar 
will permit, he will be shown all such irregularities as may have escaped his 
Notice, either in the Orthographical or Syntactical Part. 

28 Fisher, preface, XI. 
» British, preface, XXVIII. 
32 N. Y. G. and W. P. B., Dec. 30, 1771. 

83 It is to be noted that the study of English grammar begins exactly where that of 
Latin grammar began. 


These Lessons will also be selected from different Authors in various Sub- 
jects; and 'frequently, from the Works of those who are the most Celebrated, 
for the Elegance of their Epistolary Writings; as this Kind of Composition is 
acknowledged to be as difficult as any, and of greater Utility. The erroneous 
Part in every Lesson will likewise be modified. At one time it will consist of 
false Spelling alone; . . . at another of false Concord ; . . . the next perhaps will 
consist of both ; . . . the fourth may not be composed of either of them, but may 
contain some Inaccuracies or Vulgarisms, etc.; the fifth may retain all the 
foregoing Inproprieties, and the last, none of them, of which the pupil need not 
be appraised, for Reasons, that are too evident to require a Recital. To the 
preceeding exercises will succeed others on the Nature and Use of Transposi- 
tion ; . . . the Elipses of all the Parts of Speech, as used by the best Writers, 
together with the use of Synonymous Terms. . . . 

A General Knowledge of all which, joined to Practice, will enable Youth 
to avoid the many orthographical Errors, Barbarisms, inelegant Repetitions, 
and manifest Solecisms, which they are otherwise liable to run into, and in 
Time, which render them Masters of an easy, Elegant Style, by which they will 
become capable of conveying their Sentiment's with Clearness and Precision, in 
a concise and agreeable Manner, as well with Reputation to themselves as 
Delight to their Friends. 

Lastly, tho' the Pointing of a Discourse requires Judgment and a more inti- 
mate Acquaintance with the Syntactical Order of Words and Sentences, than 
the Generality of Youth can be possessed of, to which may be added the unset- 
tled State that Punctuation itself is really in ; so that very few precise Rules 
can be given, without numerous Exceptions, which would rather embarass the 
Pupils by continually searching of their Dictionaries, in quest of Primitives 
and their Derivatives, as well as the constituent Parts of Compound Terms; 
besides learning the Dependence that their Native Language has on itself; will 
also treasure up in their Memories a vast Stock of Words, from the purest 
Writers: and what is of infinitely more Value, their just Definitions; as every 
one of this Class will have Johnson's Dictionary in Octavo. 84 


Byerley is the author of the second grammar written by an Ameri- 
can and published in this country, "A Plain and Easy Introduction to 
English Grammar," 1773. In the same year we find him advertising 
an English grammar school in New York City, giving a detailed 
record of the methods of teaching used in his various classes. 

Byerley, like Franklin and other American champions of the 
mother tongue, had been reading John Locke. 35 In the advertisement 
of his school, he sets forth the necessity of giving up the study of 
Latin for the purpose of learning English grammar, quoting Locke 

■* Advertisement In N. Y. G. and W. P. B., Dec. 30, 1771. 

85 Byerley, after quoting Locke and Lowth, continues : " Heretofore it was thought a 
competent knowledge of the English could not be acquired without some previous acquaint- 
ance with the Latin Tongue : which therefore became the only Vehicle of grammatical 
Instruction. This error arose from a too partial Fondness for that Language, in which 
formerly tha Service of the Church, the Translation of the Bible, and most other Books 
were printed. . . . Men, however, too often sacrifice their Understanding? at the shrine 
of Ancient Custom. Thus the Practice of sending Youths to learn English at a Latin 

60258°— 22 9 


at length on the unwisdom of compelling a lad to learn " the Romar 
Language " when he is at the same time designed for a " trade.'' 3< 
There can be little doubt that the seeming practicability of English 
grammar and of the so-called English education in general — a conten 
tion first advanced by Locke — was the most powerful argument for the 

After thus setting forth his reasons Byerley sketches his plan fo 
"An English Grammar School which will be opened the first of nex 
month." 37 This title, like Hughes's, which was called "An English 
Grammar and General School, indicates that there were attempts to 
establish English schools on the same order as the secondary grammar 
schools heretofore known in the colonies. 

In the lowest Class will be arranged the Children who have been but imper- 
fectly taught to read ; with whom the Utmost Care shall be taken to correct ill 
Habits in Reading; and to form a just Pronunciation. 

In the next Class the Scholar shall be initiated in the grammatical Institutes; 
and these strongly fixed on the Mind by frequent Parsing of the most approved 

The third will introduce the scholar to an Acquaintance with the Syntax and 
Ellipsis; each of which shall be inculcated in a Course of reading such books 
as may engage the young Attention, and have a moral Tendency; as ^Esop's 
Fables, The Moral Miscellaney, The British Plutarch, Gay's Fables, Beauties of 
History, or Pictures of Virtue and Vice. 

In this Class the Scholar will be frequently exercised in the Declension of 
irregular and defective Verbs, and the Exercises of Parsing will be continued. 

The fourth Class will be formed out of those Scholars who being most pro- 
ficient in their grammatical Exercises are ready to be instructed in a proper and 
elegant Mathod of reading Prose. 

The books used in this Course, will be chiefly History of the World, History of 
English, Introduction to Polite Learning, Seneca's Morals, Ancient History, 
History of America, Derbam's Physics, and Astro-Theology, Economy of Human 

In the fifth Class the scholar will be initiated in the Proprieties and Beauties 
of reading Poetry, exemplified in the Works of Thomson, Gray, Pope, and 

The Scholars of the fourth and fifth Classes will be occasionally instructed in 
the Art of familiar Letter writing. 


What then may be concluded concerning the methods of the years 
1750 to 1823 in America? 

School continued, without any inquiries about the Propriety of it, till Mr. Locke ventured 
to censure the conduct of a Father who should waste his own Money and his Son's Time 
in Setting him to learn the Roman Language." ... 

Byerley was a disciple of Locke in matters of discipline also. At the end of his adver- 
tisement he gives " Rules," " on the Model of Mr. Locke, a New Mode of Reprehension 
for Irregularities and a loitering Study, will be adopted. The several Methods at present 
taken in most Schools . . . are oftener attended with bad than with good Consequences. 
It shall be my care to reason or shame them out of their Faults by affectionate Argu- 
ments with them ; or in the Extremity, a public Disgrace among their Fellows." 

36 The title Hughes's English Grammar and General School appears in 1773 announce- 
ment. N. Y. G. and W. M , Nov. 8. 

37 Byerley advertisement in N. Y. G. and W. M., Aug. 23, 1773. 


1. The textbooks in most general use were modeled strictly after the 
Latin, and their authors advised methods of instruction which had 
been used in teaching Latin grammar for 300 years. 

2. The common conception of grammar — as the art of writing and 
speaking a language with correctness and propriety — was one which 
confused the nature of grammar with the laudable purpose of teach- 
ing it and obtained, with few exceptions, throughout the two periods. 

3. Instruction proceeded without exception from the wrong unit — 
the word. This was the natural result of the seemingly logical process 
of beginning with the simplest elements and proceeding to the com- 
plex. In reading and in grammar, because of this procedure, the 
A-B-C method was destined to remain fixed until the revival led by 
Horace Mann. All the grammars began with the parts of speech. 

4. There was but little connection between the parrotlike repetition 
of rules and any real understanding of them. 38 

5. Eelatively little effort in writing or speaking was made to apply 
the rules of grammar. William B. Fowle, the editor of The Common 
School Journal, writing of his own education about 1800, said : 

We were educated at one of the best schools . . . but, although we studied 
English grammar seven years and received a silver medal for proficiency, we 
never wrote a sentence of English at school, and never did anything that had to 
do with writing or conversation. 89 

The common procedure was in theory from rules to practice; but 
it was practice involved in the application of formidable exercises of 
syntax, etymology, and parsing and endless exercises in correcting 
false syntax. It is true that in dictation, writing exercises, and speak- 
ing we have seen, in embryonic form, the beginnings of our modern 
composition and literature; but these were strictly subordinated to 
the all-powerful trilogy of methods — memorization, parsing, and 
false syntax. 

In short, from the viewpoint of the best modern practice, before 
1823, English grammar was badly taught in every respect. The 
nature of the textbooks themselves is enough to warrant that conclu- 
sion ; but when the evidence is added of the wretched incompetence 
of teachers 40 and the corroborating testimony of every man who was 
a student of grammar during that period assurance is rendered 
doubly sure. In almost the same terms Brinsley uses for his own 
school in 1620 he might have described the practices of Hughes's and 
Byerley's schools a century and a half later. 

«• An observer, speaking of 1820, says : " Grammar has been extensively Introduced. 
. . . Children are required to commit the grammar to memory. This was the study of 
grammar. ... It may be said . . . that scarcely anyone understood anything he passed 

89 Editorial, C. S. J. (1849), 258. Fowle was the editor of two rather obscure grammars 
in the period which turned the study toward the science of sentences and the practice of 

40 See Chap. IV, pp. 92 et seq. 

Chapter VI. 

In the preceding chapter we have seen the methods used in teaching 
Latin grammar transferred with slavish imitation to English. In 
brief, grammar was looked upon as the art of speaking and writing 
correctly. This art was to be acquired by learning page after page of 
rules by rote, 41 of which no application whatever was made by the 
pupils. 42 Memorizing came to be supplemented by parsing according 
to strict Latin methods 43 and by correcting endless examples of 
false syntax. 44 Moreover, the question-and-answer method, putting 
a premium on verbatim recitation of memorized parts, prevalent 
before 1800, had not entirely disappeared in 1830. 45 Grammar was 
begun by very young children and was accompanied by no oral dis- 
cussion and by no composition. Teachers were very deficient. 46 The 
result of these methods was little more than a mystification of the 
pupils, with no appreciable improvement in grammatical accuracy. 47 
In short, the early instruction in grammar in America up to the end 
of the first quarter of the nineteenth century proceeded on the wrong 
basis — that of inflections; it began with the wrong unit — the word, 
and it followed entirely erroneous methods of study in proceeding 
from theory and rules to practice instead of reversing the process. 48 

41 J. T. Buckingham, Am. J. of Ed., 13, 132 ; Noah Webster, ibid., 26, 196 ; W. K. Oliver, 
ibid., 213. 

"Wallis, Com. Sch. J. (1850), 5. 

48 As indicating the Latin extreme, Murray's Grammar makes possible 60 forms in the 
pluperfect tense of the subjunctive mood. 

44 This seems to have been introduced by Lowth's Grammar in 1758. 

45 Wallis, op. cit., 85 ; Wickersham, Hist, of Ed. in Pa., 206 ; Am. An. of Ed. and Ins. 
(1832), 268. 

46 See Chap. IV, p. 92. 

4T Rept. Committee Common Schools, Conn., Am. An. of Ed. and Ins. (1832), 247. 

Horace Mann said in 1827 : " It is not a perfect knowledge of a treatise on grammar 
or a surprising fluency in parsing that will serve to produce . . . correctness in expres- 
sion." Am. An. of Ed. (1827), 681-2. 

48 W. C. Woodbridge, a prominent schoolman of Boston, says : " Nothing is more com- 
mon than for children to recite it (the grammar), in course, two or three times. In 
many of our schools, a portion of the day, through the greater part of one winter term 
of three or four months, is devoted to committing to memory the rules and definitions of 
etymology." He makes the following amusing calculation : " The average time spent in 
committing grammar, as it is called, to memory, is at least one month to each pupil con 
cerned ; and this time is entirely lost. New England contains 1,954,562 inhabitants 
about one-fourth of whom are between 4 and 16 years of age. One scholar in ten . . 
commences the study of grammar every year. The amount of time lost annually is equiva 
lent to 4,072 years." Then, estimating the cost of schooling as $1.50 a week, he adds 
" The value of the time would thus be $317,616. . . . Let this waste be continued every 
year for 30 years, and the amount is nearly ten millions of dollars." Am. J. and An. of 
Ed. and Ins. (1831), 170-1. 



The ensuing period between 1823 and 1847, called above the parsing 
period, was a time of conflict between the traditional ideals and 
methods just mentioned and innovations fostered largely by the trend 
toward inductive study which characterized some school practices of 
that day. During this period four grammatical textbooks dominated 
the field. In 1823 Samuel Kirkham published in New York his " New 
and Systematic Order of Parsing " and in 1825 his " English Gram- 
mar in Familiar Lectures." In the same year and State Goold Brown 
published his " Grammatical Institutes." Peter Bullion's Grammar 
of 1834 was the third. Roswell Smith's two books — his grammars on 
the inductive and on the productive systems, respectively — had 
appeared in 1829 and 1831. Smith was a Massachusetts author; 
Bullion lived in New York. These four texts we have seen were fairly 
successful in outdistancing all rivals by 1830, almost entirely displac- 
ing Murray and Webster 49 with their imitators. 

At the end of the period upon which we are entering William H. 
Wells, with his " School Grammar," of 1846, and Samuel S. Greene, 
with " The Analysis of Sentences," of 1847, appeared upon the scene. 
These men produced the first of those texts which, after the middle 
of the century, were to bring about still another revolution in prin- 
ciples and school practice. They were the culmination of the influ- 
ences which we shall see at work during the 25 years preceding them, 
ushering in permanently the conception of grammar as a science of 
sentences. 50 

The present chapter endeavors to trace the most important influ- 
ences which produced the breaking away from the conception of 
grammar as an art and prepared the way for the conception of it as a 
science, a state finally attained by 1850. It will treat also the accom- 
panying changes in methods of teaching before that date. 51 The 
second quarter of the last century was by far the most interesting 
and important period in grammatical instruction, surpassed in inter- 

Woodbridge is writing of the year 1830. In a Virginia elementary school of 1847 the 
rule in grammar was: "Commit the big print the first time: on the socond review the 
big and little print, verbatim. So I went through Smith's Grammar on the Productive 
System. (What it produced in me Heaven only knows.) Almost all lesson-getting was by 
heart." E. S. Joynes, quoted. Heathwole, Hist, of Ed. in Va., 111. 

49 See Chap. IV, p. 86. Smith's Grammars were used more than all others combined in 
Massachusetts during these decades. Bullion. Brown, Smith, and Kirkham divided the 
grammatical field of New York about evenly among them. 

60 Wells defines grammar as " the science which treats of the principles of grammar. 
English grammar teaches [not is] the art of speaking and writing the English Language 
correctly." Sch. Gram., 25. Greene says : " English grammar teaches the principles of 
the English Language." Analysis, 203. By 1850 the conception of grammar as a science 
was firmly fixed in school practice. Even Goold Brown, who in 1823 had defined " English 
Grammar is the Art of Speaking and writing the English language correctly" (Institutes, 
15), modified his definition to conform to the newer conception in 1851. Gram, of 
Gram., 45. 

31 The advance in methods after 1850, beginning with Wells and Greene, carried on 
iater by Swinton, Swett, and others, is reserved for another study. 


est only by the movement on foot at the present time, by which gram 
mar is being relegated to its proper place as a purely incidental study 


Samuel Kirkham's two books, particularly his " Grammar on th( 
Productive System," reached enormous popularity, especially in New 
York and adjoining States. 52 In several important respects Kirk- 
ham's textbooks differ from Murray's, which they did so much to 
displace. They made a decided advance in methods of teaching. 
First, Kirkham illustrates in a series of familiar talks the various 
rules and definitions in an endeavor to bring them within the com- 
prehension of the learners ; 53 second, he introduces an imposing new 
system of parsing. 54 The chief innovation in his parsing, as differing 
from Murray and Webster, is that Kirkham introduces it very early 
in his study, immediately after his treatment of nouns and verbs, 
while the older grammarians postpone the subject until the pupil had 
mastered 160 pages (in Murray) of etymology and syntax. 55 Kirk- 
ham's third innovation is his use of a series of devices for recognizing 
the various parts of speech and their functions in a sentence. 56 

These three innovations are designed to accomplish two purposes 
which seem to have been largely unrecognized by the grammars of the 
preceding periods, namely, the intelligent understanding by the pupil 
of the parts he was learning and immediate self-activity on the pupil's 
part in practicing the new principle just as soon as he has acquired it. 
Remembering now that " stick close to the book " was the order of 
the day, it is easy to infer what the influence of Kirkham's methods 
must have been in school practice. 

82 See Chap. IV, p. 84. 

By 1835 the second book is said to have reached its one hundred and seventh edition in 
New York. Barnard, Am J. of Ed., 14, 763. 

The writer is using a book called " English Grammar by Lectures," Joseph Hull (first 
edition, Boston, 1828), seventh edition. Mayfield, Ky., 1833. In a note the author says 
that Kirkham stole his plan of procedure from him. Hull uses the same order of parsing 
as Kirkham, namely, by transposition. He says : " This order and these rules have been 
copied by some writers on English Grammar and presented as original. But a reference to 
the date of the author's copyright ... in the forty-sixth year of the Independence of 
the United States (1821) will prove it to be a plagiarism." Preface, XIV. We do not 
pretend to pass on the merits of the claim. There is evident truth that either Hull copied 
Kirkham, or vice versa ; the grammatical treatment of bath is on an entirely different plane 
from that of earlier writers we have seen. However, although the case looks bad for 
Kirkham, it was certainly he. not Hull, who was influential in spreading the new 

53 For example : The nominative case is the actor, or subject of the verb : as. John 
writes. In this example, which is the verb? You know it is the word icrites. because this 
word signifies to do; that is, it expresses action; therefore according to the definition, it 
is an active verb. And you know. too. that the noun John is the actor, therefore John is 
in the nominative case to the verb writes. Eng. Gram, in Fam. Lect., 43. 

54 " The Order Of Parsing a Relative Pronoun is — a pronoun, and why? — relative, and 
why? — gender, and why? — Rule. — Case, and why? — Rule. — Decline it." Ibid., 113. 

M It is only fair to say that editions of Murray's Abridgment after 1820 also place 
parsing immediately after each exercise but in a much more rudimentary way. 

68 Any word that will take the sense of " the " before it is a noun. Any word which 
will make sense when preceded by " to " is a verb, etc. Ibid., 31, 44. 


Kirkham remarks concerning his innovations: "All (earlier writ- 
ers) overlooked what the author considers a very important object, 
namely, a systematick order of parsing: and nearly all have neglected 
to develop and explain the principles in such a manner as to enable 
the learner, without great difficulty, to comprehend their nature and 
use." 57 He disclaims originality in subject matter, admitting frankly 
that he copied Murray, but claims great credit for changes in presen- 
tation and in method. 58 We may conclude that Kirkham's main 
attack was on purposeless rote memorization, aiming, as he did, to 
make the pupils understand what they learned, and that while he 
retained parsing and the correcting of false syntax he made definite 
attempts to compel practice to accompany learning step by step. 

Smith's Inductive and Productive Grammars, 1829 and 1831, were 
produced frankly on the leading principles of Pestalozzi. This prin- 
ciple Smith states as follows : 

The child should be regarded not as the mere recipient of the ideas of others, 
but as an agent capable of collecting, and originating, and producing most of 
the ideas which are necessary for its education, when presented with the objects 
of facts from which they may be derived. . . . Such is the productive system, 
by which the powers of the pupil are called into complete exercise by requiring 
him to attempt a task unaided, and then assisting him in his own errors. . . . 
They distinguish carefully between knowledge and the means of perceiving 

The pretentious idea of the productive system, when worked out in 
practice, is not at all impressive. Throughout the book the produc- 
tive method amounts to putting in the text explanations which the 
teacher might have made orally. 00 The productive approach to rule 

87 Ibid., 9. 

88 " The systematick order laid down in this work, if pursued by the pupil, compels him 
to apply every definition and every rule that appertains to every word he parses without 
having a question put to him by the teacher. . . . The author is anxious to have the 
absurd practice ... of causing learners to commit and recite definitions and rules with- 
out any simultaneous application of them to practical examples immediately abolished." 
Ibid., 11. 

68 Preface, stereotype ed., Philadelphia, 1838, 5, 6. 

Smith's Productive is really three grammars in one. Part I, covering 40 pages, con- 
tains the parts of speech and treats 11 rules of syntax. Part II, intended for the next 
higher class, covers (pp. 41-96) exactly the same 11 rules, going into much more detail, 
with more elaborate parsing, and adding exercises in syntax, together with sentences to 
be corrected. It adds more rules, completing 22 rules of syntax. Part III is entitled 
" Syntax " and is really a rearrangement of Murray's large grammar. Murray's 22 rules 
are given in order, with his treatment of each. Above each of Murray's rules Smith 
places the number of his rule which corresponds, adding nine to the list. This part might 
have been used by a pupil in his third year of grammar. The fact that it included three 
grammars in one may have accounted for the popularity of the book in part ; under one 
cover is material for three consecutive years of gi-ammatical study, the second and the 
third each being an elaboration of the preceding. 

60 I. Of the Noun. 

Q. What is your name? 

Q. What is the name of the town in whicb you live? 

Q. What does the word noun mean? 

Arts. The word noun means name. 

Q. What then may your name be caHed? 


9 — two negatives in the same sentence are equivalent to an affirm 
tive — runs in this wise : 



Negative means denying; and affirming, asserting or declaring positively. A 
sentence in which something is denied is a negative one, and a sentence in 
which something is affirmed ... is an affirmative one. . . . The phrase, " I 
have nothing,'' has one negative, and means, " I have not anything." Th 
phrase " I have not nothing "... must mean . . . " I have something." 

Then follows the rule. Smith's idea is good, but when the objects 
dealt with are words which are mere symbols of meanings, when the 
objects dealt with are grammatical relationships and merely logical 
concepts, the method for a textbook becomes extremely laborious. It 
is formal, stiff, and heavy. However, his efforts at explanation and 
self-activity on the part of the pupil were pioneer attempts in a diffi- 
cult field. At the close of this period much of the laborious explana- 
tion placed in the books of Kirkham and Smith is left to the teacher 
in the form of " Oral Instruction." 61 

In quite another direction lies the real merit of Smith's innovations. 
He has one set of exercises running throughout his text, which con- 
stitutes a decided step in advance. This is a series entitled " Sentences 
to be written." For example, " Will you write one sentence discrib- 
ing the business of an instructer? 62 One, the business of a doctor? 
One, the business of a lawyer ? One of a surgeon. . . . One, of the 
directors of a bank." 63 This pioneering in the field of sentence build- 
ing renders him worthy of a place of high honor. Of course composi- 
tion was not unknown, but the writer has seen no serious attempts 
earlier than Smith to use it in close association with grammatical 
instruction. This sentence building is one of the most promising 
innovations in any textbook up to 1831. 

Smith adds one other feature worthy of mention. At the foot of 
each page he places a set of questions covering the principles developed 
on the page. Presumably many a class recitation consisted in the 
teacher's reading these questions and receiving corresponding answers 
by the pupils. This in reality was a backward step. The very neces- 
sity of framing a suitable question compels the teacher to think, 
provided of course the recitation consists of anything more than 
memorizing work. Smith scatters parsing and false syntax through- 
out his books, as do all the important texts of the period with which 
the writer is familiar. All follow Kirkham's example. 

Bullion's Grammar of 1843 contains nothing new; his one effort 
at advance in method seems to have been to make parsing shorter and 

Arts. A noun. 

Q. What may all names be called? 

Ans. Nouns. 

Q. Boston is the name of a place ; is Boston a noun, and if so, why? 

Ans. Boston is a noun because it is a name. etc. Ibid.. 7. 

61 See p. 146. « Ibid., 105. 

88 His spelling is incorrect. 


simpler. His grammar parses the sentence " I lean upon the Lord," 
as follows : " I, the first personal pronoun, masculine or feminine, 
singular, the nominative; lean, a verb, neuter, first person singular, 
present, indicative ; upon, a preposition ; the, an article ; Lord, a noun, 
masculine, singular, the objective, governed by upon." 64 In parsing, 
the pupil is urged to state everything belonging to the etymology of 
each word " in as few words as possible" always " in the same order " 
and " in the same language" 

Bullion's idea of simplifying any part of the process in grammar 
was certain to arouse the bitter opposition of Goold Brown, who is at 
once the most scholarly, the most interesting, and the most exasperat- 
ing grammarian encountered in this study. He is exasperating 
because of his sarcastic condemnation of the grammatical work of 
every prominent writer with w T hose books his own came in competi- 
tion. Upon this simplifying plan of Bullion, Brown heaps the bit- 
terest scorn, pointing out that Bullion omits (1) definitions of terms 
applied; (2) distinction of nouns as common and proper; (3) the 
person of nouns; (4) the words, number, gender, case; (5) the divi- 
sion of adjectives into classes; (6) the classification of words as 
regular and irregular, redundant or defective; (7) the division of 
verbs as active, passive neuter; (8) the words, mode, and tense; (9) 
the distinction of adverbs, as to time, place, degree, and manner; (10) 
the distinctions of conjunctions as copulative or disjunctive; and (11) 
the distinction of interjections as expressions of varying emotions. 

The omission of these 11 points in parsing was highly irritating to 
Brown, who still remained in 1851 65 a worshiper of formalism. To 
Roswell C. Smith and Pestalozzianism in general Brown pays his 
respects in no gentle terms. Of " The Grammar on the Productive 
System " he affirms : 

The book is as destitute of taste, as of method : of authority, as of originality. 
It commences with the inductive process, and after forty pages . . . becomes a 
" productive system," by means of a misnamed " Recapitulation " which jumbles 
together the etymology and the syntax of the language through seventy-six 
pages more. It is then made still more "productive" by the appropriation of 
a like space to a reprint of Murray's Syntax and Exercises, under the inappro- 
priate title, " general observations." What there is in Germany or Switzerland 
that bears any resemblance to this misnamed system of English grammar, 
remains to be seen. . . . The infidel Neef, whose new method of education has 
been tried in this country, and with its promulgator forgot, was an accredited 
disciple of this boasted " productive school," a zealous coadjutor with Pestalozzi 
himself, from whose halls he emanated ... to teach the nature of things 
sensible, and a contempt for all the wisdom of books. And what similarity is 
there between his method of teaching and that of Roswell C. Smith, except their 
pretense to a common parentage, and that both are worthless? 68 

•* Prin. of Eng. Gram., 74. " Gram, of Gram., 92-3. 

66 The date of his Grammar of Grammars. 


Thus does Brown discredit Pestalozzianism, with its oral and objec- 
tive teaching, and vigorously assail those who began to doubt u the 
wisdom of books." Thus does he resent any effort to simplify or 
render more expeditious the mastery of grammar, whose principles 
he regarded with almost worshipful reverence. His own influence on 
school practices was decidedly conservative ; he is the last of the old 
guard, the champion of traditional methods, believing that a knowl- 
edge of " the book itself will make anyone a grammarian." He 
declares : 

The only successful method of teaching grammar is to cause the principal 
definitions and rules to be committed thoroughly to memory, that they may ever 
afterward be readily applied. Oral instruction may smooth the way and 
facilitate the labor of the learner; but the notion of communicating a competent 
knowledge of grammar without imposing this task is disproved by universal 
experience. ... It is the plain didactic method of definition and example, rule, 
and praxis; which no man who means to teach grammar well will ever desert. 
. . . The book itself will make anyone a grammarian who will take the trouble 
to observe and practice what it teaches. 67 

Thus, in an almost ludicrous way the champion of what he calls the 
u ancient positive method, which aims directly at the inculcation of 
principles " 68 is blind to that fatal error of the traditionalists who 
thought that the book itself would make anyone a grammarian. They 
were right, if the assumption upon which the statement was made 
were true. The error of the traditionalists lies in this assumption. 
The connection between knowledge of the book, especially mere verbal 
knowledge and skill in practice, is remote. That this connection was 
not made in early American schools, was never made in any schools, 
and is not generally made to-day is the supreme criticism of the 
methods and practice of teaching grammar throughout its entire 
course in America. 

No better summary of the tide of protest that was swelling up 
between 1825 and 1850 against this older conception can be desired 
than the following statement of Brown himself, made at the close of 
the period. His monumental " Grammar of Grammars," 1851, was 
written frankly to stem innovations in teaching the subject. Examin- 
ing the common argument that the memorizing of definitions and 
rules, the knowledge of the arrangements' and divisions of a highly 
Latinized grammar, has very little function in acquiring skill in the 
art of language, Brown says : 

It [this argument] has led some men ... to doubt the expediency of the 
whole method, under any circumstances, and either to discountenance the whole 
matter, or to invent other schemes by which they hoped to be more successful. 
The utter futility of the old accidence has been inferred from it and urged . . . 
with all the plausibility of a fair and legitimate deduction. The hardships of 
children, compelled to learn what they did not understand, have been bewailed 

« Institutes, preface, VI. •» Gram, of Gram., 86. 


in prefaces and reviews, and prejudices . . . have been excited against that 
method of teaching grammar, which after aft, will be found . . . the easiest, the 
shortest, and the best. I mean, especially, the ancient positive method, which 
aims directly at the inculcation of principles. 69 

Of the four leading grammarians of the period, then, we may say 
that Brown was distinctly a traditionalist. His contributions lay in 
a more accurate presentation of the subject matter of grammar in 
general. He was the last of the grammarians who would foist upon a 
concordless tongue all the intricacies of inflected languages and insist 
that a mere knowledge of abstract grammatical principles is effective 
in making good writers and speakers. He looked upon grammar as 
formal discipline par excellence. Bullion's contributions to new 
methods were very meager. Kirkham and Smith, forerunners of 
radical changes, attempted to employ principles of inductive teaching. 

From almost the beginning of grammatical instruction in America 
there had been sporadic attempts to make grammar easy for young 
pupils. No fewer than 13 texts which were published before 1820 
appear under the titles " Kudiments," " Grammar Made Easy," " Ele- 
ments," " English Grammar Abridged," " Epitome of English Gram- 
mar," and the like. But this endeavor to make grammar easy is to 
be sharply distinguished from the attempts of grammarians whom 
Brown refers to as simplifying grammarians — men who, after 1823, 
endeavored to present by means of easily understood devices theoreti- 
cal intricacies as found in Murray and Webster. 

Even before the period under consideration Greenleaf, in 1819, 
published " Grammar Simplified, or Oracular Analysis of the Eng- 
lish Lnguage." Other titles indicative of this second line of endeavor 
are: Anonymous, 1820, "The Decoy, An English Grammar"; 
McCrady, 1820, "An English Grammar in Verse " ; Ingersoll, 1821, 
"Conversations in English Grammar"; Hurd, 1827, "Grammatical 
Chart, or Private Instructor " ; Patterson, 182-, " Grammar without a 
Master " ; anonymous, 1830, " Pestalozzian Grammar " ; anonymous, 
1830, " English Grammar with Cuts " ; anonymous, 1832, " Interroga- 
tive Grammar," and the like. In short, after 1820 there was manifest 
a distinct tendency, both among leading grammarians and humbler 
workers, to modify what had hitherto been an occult and laborious 
subject, to the end that it might be understood as well as learned 
verbatim. 70 

69 Ibid., 86. 

70 Goold Brown speaks characteristically of this entire tendency. " The vain preten- 
sions of several modern simplifyers, contrivers of machines, charts, tables, diagrams, 
vincula, pictures, dialogues, familiar lectures, oracular analysis, productive systems, tabu- 
lar compendiums, intellectual methods, and various new theories, for the purpose of 
teaching grammar, may serve to deceive the ignorant, to amuse the visionary, and to 
excite the admiration of the credulous . . . but no contrivance can ever relieve tlie pupil 
from the necessity of committing them (rules and definitions) thoroughly to memory. 
. . . The teacher . . . will be cautious of renouncing the practical lessons of hoary 
experience for the futile notions of a vain projector." Tbid., 91. 


We have been speaking above of new tendencies and not of realiza 
tions in schoolroom practices. Abundant evidence is present that 
schools were very slow in conforming to the new methods. A few 
examples of the conditions which prevailed between 1823 and 1850 
indicate that the larger part of grammatical instruction remained a 
slavish verbal repetition of rules and a desperate struggle with com- 
plicated parsing formulae. This is the reason why it is appropriate to 
call the period " parsing period." Throughout there was devotion to 
what a Boston school committee of 1845 called more suggestively than 
elegantly " the osteology of language." 71 


It is not generally known that Warren Colburn, known chiefly for 
his work in the field of arithmetic, prepared also a series of juvenile 
readers consisting chiefly of excerpts from Maria Edgeworth's 
stories. 72 To each of the series Colburn attached a few of the prin- 
ciples of grammar, and as the child completed his reading books he 
completed likewise a portion of grammatical knowledge suitable for 
young pupils. Colburn's principles of grammar took the form of 
instructions to teachers; they in turn imparted them to pupils. It 
will be noted that this is in essence the inductive approach, a decided 

"Bos. Sch. Kept., 1845, 16. 

1822. Charlotte Academy, North Carolina : " Some who began to memorize Grammar 
since the commencement of the session parsed blank verse with uncommon ease and 
propriety." Coon, N. C, Sch. and Acad., 1790-1840, 230; Western Carolinian, July 9, 

1827. A class in Lincolnton Academy was examined on " Memorizing English Gram- 
mar." Ibid., 212. This is but little in advance of the practice of Wayne Academy in the 
same State, where (in 1818) " the fifth class was examined on English Grammar from 
the verb ' to have ' to Syntax ; the sixth class as far as the Substantive ; the seventh as 
far as the Article, and the eighth to the verb ' to be.' " Ibid., 634, Raleigh Register, Oct. 
9, 1818. 

1828. Report of a committee on common schools, Connecticut. " Children may be 
found who have committed to memory their Grammar, their Geography, and the Intro- 
duction to the Spelling Book half a dozen times each and yet no wiser for practical pur- 
poses than before. . . . Grammar and Geography are committed to memory rather than 
taught for after years of study ; . . . the pupils often have little or no practical knowl- 
edge of either, especially the former. This is due to the fact that the books themselves 
are not usually adapted to the pupils' capacity, partly to the ignorance of inexperience of 
the teacher." Am. An. of Ed. and Ins., 1832, 247-8. 

1842. Fifth report of Horace Mann. " If the teacher is conversant with no better way 
than to put a common textbook of Grammar into the hands of beginners and to hear 
lessons recited by them day after day concerning definitions and rules while as yet they 
are totally Ignorant of the classes of words defined ... he surely has no aptness to 
teach grammar. The question is often asked, When or at what age children should begin 
to study grammar? If it is to be studied in the way described above, one would almost be 
tempted to reply, never." Com. Sch. J., 1842, 337. 

1845. Boston school committee gave an examination to find grade of work done. " It 
would seem impossible for a scholar to parse a stanza of Childe Harold correctly and yet 
fail to see the force of the metaphors, etc., . . . yet this is done sometimes. Such is the 
power of close attention to the osteology of language, to the bones and articulations, in 
forgetfulness of the substance that covers, and the spirit that animates them." Bos. Sch. 
Rept., 1845, 16. 

72 These books were First, Second, Third, and Fourth Lessons in Reading and Grammar. 
Boston, 1831, 38, 44. 


improvement over Roswell Smith's plan and in signal contrast to the 
traditional procedure. Colburn's four series of lessons in reading 
and grammar were not so widely used as his arithmetics. They did 
not lend themselves to the scheme of making grammar a separate 
study and were primarily for beginners. However, the prestige of his 
name and success in arithmetic attracted attention to his grammati- 
cal labors. His Pestalozzian methods, with emphasis on objective, 
oral, visual, explanatory, and simplified instruction, did much to lay 
the foundation for the educational revival which sprang up along 
inductive lines before 1850. 73 

Colburn was influenced by one man whose importance is often 
neglected, his most intimate friend, James G. Carter. 74 Of him 
Barnard declares " to him more than any one person belongs the 
credit of having first arrested the attention of the leading minds in 
Massachusetts to the necessity of immediate and thorough improve- 
ment of the public schools." 75 Carter was instrumental in inducing 
Colburn to adopt inductive methods. 76 His advanced position in the 
philosophy of teaching grammar, as early as 1824, is remarkable. 
After setting forth the faulty practices of his day he adds : 

The system proceeds upon the supposition that the language was invented and 
formed by the rules of grammar. Nothing is more false. A grammar can never 
be written till a good knowledge of the language is attained ; and then, contrary 
to what the pupil supposes, the grammar is made to suit the language. Now, 
why neglect this natural method in teaching language to young learners?" 

Again, " The schoolbooks . . . are certainly not written on the 
inductive method, and these are our instructors. . . . The essential 
principle, on which they are written, is the same through all changes. 
This is wrong and should be corrected." 78 The significance of this 
language lies in the fact that it was published in 1824, shortly before 
Roswell Smith, Colburn, and others attempted to put into grammati- 
cal textbooks the changes which Carter champions. 

Reference has already been made to the fact that Neef, a repre- 
sentative of Pestalozzi, who was brought to America in 1806 and 

"Barnard, Ed. Biog., 208. 

" After Colburn's death Carter wrote to Mrs. Colburn : " No man ever drew out my 
heart as did Warren Colburn. No one has ever filled the aching void of his loss." 
Ibid., 217. 

"Ibid., 182. 

79 Letters to Prescott, last three chapters. Carter also was instrumental in establishing 
the office to which Mann was elected in Massachusetts. 

77 In " Letters to Prescott " (pp. 72-4) Carter argues that facts are to be learned first ; 
that rules are merejy the verbal generalization of facts. " They are abstract principles, 
the truth of which can neither be perceived, understood, nor believed till some single 
instance . . . presents itself to the learner. . . . The rule ... is obtained by a patient 
induction of particular instances and is put in words, not to teach us anything, but to classify 
what has already been learned. . . . The abstract principles of a language give no more 
adequate idea of the particulars from which they have been formed than the labels give 
of the nature and obligation of a note. . . . The facts of a language . . . are always 
first learned. . . . The rules in the learner's memory are perfectly useless till he has 
learned the particulars or facts of the language." 

"Ibid., 66. 



established a school in Philadelphia, was naturally outspoken in his 
opposition to the prevailing methods of teaching grammar. He 
asserted that " grammar and incongruity are identical things," and 
attempted to reach correct use of the vernacular by direct means 
associated with object teaching, rejecting practically all that had bee 
taught under the name of grammar. 79 

Three other men prominent in the educational revival, especially as 
its changes affected the teaching of grammar, are Asa Rand, Henry 
Barnard, and Horace Mann. Eand was the author of " The Teachers' 
Manual for Instructing in English Grammar." 80 Rand applies in 
this pedagogical manual the fundamental fact about grammar, stated 
so effectively by Carter above : " In forming a system of rules for a 
written and cultivated language, its principles were obtained by dis- 
covery, not by invention." It is significant that this passage is from 
a lecture on methods of teaching grammar and composition before the 
American Institute of Instruction in 1833. 81 The lessons published 
by Rand are quite in keeping with the methods of inductive approach. 

But to Henry Barnard and Horace Mann are to be ascribed the 
influences which most contributed to the reform that culminated in 
the transfer of emphasis from the word to the sentence as the unit of 
grammatical study, in the growing conception of grammar as a 
science of sentences, not as the art of writing and speaking. For five 
successive years (1838-1841) Barnard, then State superintendent of 
schools of Connecticut, sent a series of questions to every teacher of 
English grammar in the State. The queries involve all the essential 
features of inductive teaching, discussed in more detail in the follow- 
ing section. There is no way of estimating the influence of Barnard's 
constant emphasis on these new principles ; the effects on school prac- 
tices must have been great. Representative queries sent out by 
Barnard were as follows: 

1. Do you make your pupils understand that the rules of grammar are only 
the recognized uses of language? 

2. Do you give elementary instruction as to the parts of speech and rules of 
construction in connection with reading lessons? 

3. Do you accustom your pupils to construct sentences of their own, using 
different parts of speech, on the blackboard? 

4. Have you formed the habit of correct speaking, so as to train, by your 
own example, your pupils to be good practical grammarians? 

5. At what age do your pupils commence this study? 82 

As early as 1827 William C. Woodbridge wrote in his journal : 

It is not a perfect knowledge of a treatise on grammar or a surprising fluency 
in parsing that will be sure to produce . . . correctness of expression. . . . 

79 Monroe, Pestalozzian Movement, 47. 

80 Published in Boston, 1832. A series of lessons in teaching grammar were the sub- 
stance of this manual. The lessons are also printed in Am. J. and An. of Ed. and Ins., 
I, 162, etc. 

"Am. An. of Ed. and Ins. (1833), 160. "Barnard, Am. J. of Ed., I, 692. 


The evil usually to be guarded against is that of trusting too much to the 
didactic exposition of grammar as given wholly in school books, and not using 
sufficient diligence to make the whole subject intelligible and familiar by plain 
conversion and constant practical exercise. What is needed in teaching gram- 
mar is full oral explanation, to prepare the learner; . . . next to this is frequent 
practice in writing (let the composition be ever so humble). 83 

Barnard and Mann at the head of State school systems were in posi- 
tions of advantage for pushing the reforms they advocated. But even 
before Mann's influence was felt as a State officer in Massachusetts 
we find here and there a progressive school committee which had 
caught the new spirit in regard to grammar. Samuel Shattuck, of 
the school committee of Concord, Mass., reported to the town meeting, 
November 6, 1830, that— 

Grammar, taught according to the usual system, is productive of little practi- 
cal good. A mere knowledge of parsing does not give a person the use of 
language. The inductive method, which commences with learning to express 
the most simple and proceeds to the more complex ideas, arriving at just rules 
for their construction at each step of its progress, seems to be the most natural 
in gaining a knowledge of language. The scholar should be required to make 
the application of every rule, in ivriting, not merely in the examples laid down 
in his textbook but in describing other objects. 8 * 

This statement is highly suggestive of both the method of parsing 
prevalent in 1830 and the. new processes which we shall consider in 
the following section. 

After Mann had aroused the State we find very frequent statements 
from the school committees of the various counties indicating the 
pressure that was being brought to bear against the " big three " of 
grammatical instruction. Charlestown committee, in 1840, says: 

Young men go from school with skill in parsing, or analyzing sentences, that 
would make the eyes of grammarians glisten with delight, and yet . . . prefer 
. . . the bastinado rather than compose a piece of reasoning. . . . Yet the 
object of learning grammar is to write and speak the English language with 
propriety ; ... to make the mind capable of forming independent opinions. . . . 
Can not something more be done for this than now is done? w 

With amusing errors in diction, the school officials of Dracot, in 
the same State and year, inveigh against formalism as follows : • 

Long lessons, correctly recited from memory, though they may sound well, 
and may be listened to with much interest, do not necessarily imply knowledge. 
They may show that a scholar has been industrious in getting his lessons. . . . 
Against this hollow, deceptive practice . . . your committee have taken a 
decided stand; . . . have given teachers strict charge ... to go, not over them 
[lessons] but into them ; not round them but through them. ... In doing this, 
our object has been to learn . . . scholars to reason as well as to commit to 

» Am. An. of Ed. (1827), 681-2. 

M Am. J. and An. of Ed. and Ins. (1831), 138. 

ss Mass. Sen. Ret. (1840), 49. 

86 Ibid., 55, 6. 






The chief features of the inductive movement as they were applie 
to grammar have been suggested in the preceding sections. The 
were three in number : First, the attempt to make learners understand 
thoroughly every step of their progress ; second, the use of oral anc 
visual instruction as a means of removing the tedium of book learn 
ing; and, third, the addition of the pupil's own activity in actually 
applying principles as he learned them, not only by means of addi- 
tional exercises for parsing and correcting false syntax but also of 
exercises in sentence building and composition. All these were to be 
taught in close association with grammar. 


The revolt against instruction meaningless to pupils was led by 
Horace Mann, whose guiding principle was the zealous advocacy of 
oral as against exclusive textbook instruction, of the word as against 
the traditional alphabet method, of the objective, illustrative, and 
explanatory method of teaching as against the abstract and subjec- 
tive. 87 Mann's leadership is clearly seen in the thinking of school 
committees of Massachusetts, in the decade between 1840 and 1850. 
They frequently objected to teaching the signs of thought, rather 
than the thought itself. 88 In 1840 the committee of the town of 
Athol expressed the opinion : u Confessedly one of the most serious 
defects existing in the system of education ... is the communica- 
tion, to the mind of the youth, of the signs of thought more than the 
thought themselves." 89 This struck to the very heart of the error of 
teaching in both reading and grammar up to 1850. The word was the 
unit of approach, the idea signified of secondary importance. Favor- 
able comment upon the results of normal training for teachers with 
special reference to making the pupils understand is not uncommon. 
For example, in the Lancaster report of 1840 we find : 

The practice of calling the attention of classes to the meaning of what they 
study is of the greatest value, but it is comparatively new in our schools and by 

"Anderson, Hist, of Com. Sch. Ed., 227. 

88 A letter from a teacher who signs himself " Expertus sum." giving an imaginary con- 
versation with a pupil in grammar, is indicative of numerous ideas found in educational 
journals of the period. 

" ' You say that you read in the English Reader ; do you study grammar? ' 

" • Yes, sir ; I have been through it several times, but I never parsed any yet.' 

"'Whose system do you study?' 

" ' Oh, I study my own grammar ; but it is almost worn out. I shall have to borrow 
then, for father says he can't afford to buy me any new books this summer.' 

" ' I meant who is the author of the grammar which you use ? ' 

" 'Author? I don't know what you mean.' " Am. J. and An. of Ed. and Ins., I, 476. 

88 Sch. Ret. (1840), 87. 


no means yet fully used. We believe that if words are good for anything it is 
for their meaning. . . . Let memory be joined with understanding. 90 

In close association with the agitation against the teaching of 
meaningless terms was the growing demand that children must under- 
stand the meaning of the grammatical principles they were called 
upon to acquire. This is in the mind of the committee of Carver, 
Mass., in 1839, when they reported : " We can not say that there are 
many who get a thorough knowledge of grammar in our schools at 
the present day, but we think that there are many who derive a con- 
siderable understanding of it," whereupon they contrasted it with 
the grammar teaching of the committee's youth. 91 Not so favorable 

were the opinions of the committee of Cummington County : 

Your committee wish to notice that . . . the method of instruction is too 
formal and mechanical, and not sufficiently directed to the understanding. 
Teachers do not sufficiently illustrate the subject in which the scholar is 
engaged. The scholar commits to memory a certain number of words, without 
attaching them to a single idea, whereas ideas instead of words ought to be 
learned. 92 

In a similar manner the school authorities of Amesbury demanded 
in teachers " the ability of communicating in an understanding and 
profitable manner what they are called upon to teach." 93 Those of 
Essex suggested " the propriety of being cautious when engaging 
teachers, to procure, if possible, . . . men who have some tact for 
awakening and bringing out the powers of youth." 94 More force- 
fully than elegantly the Athol committee expressed much the same 

A teacher is not like a jug, which holds back its contents from necessity, or 
like a cow which holds up her milk from inclination, the nearer full they are; 
he should rather be like a rain cloud, which sends down blessings in showers, 
and like a fountain ever flowing over. 95 

»°Ibid., 103. 

The school committee of Weston, in 1841, inveighed against verbal instruction :'•... 
the understanding of the scholar is not . . . properly exercised. A correct verbal recita- 
tion seems the principal, if not the only, object to be attained ; . . . while the scholar 
garners up a multitude of words, his mind adds nothing to his stock of ideas. Let the 
young be taught to think." Ibid., 1841, 69. 

The Westerfield committee, in the same year, voiced the oft-repeated complaint : " The 
efforts of too many of our teachers have been confined to impart to the scholars' memory 
a series of words, rather than to open their understanding to the reception of ideas." 
Ibid., 128. 

91 Ibid. (1839), 413. •» Ibid., 4. 

M Ibid., 1840, 143. 

The Springfield committee felt the same need : " Let the rules of grammar ... be not 
only committed to memory, but let their principles be understood, ... let the subjects 
be so incorporated into . . . the thought . . . that their contents may be reproduced and 
transmitted." Ibid., 172. That of Ashby also reported : "Another point noticed was the want 
of familiar explanation ; . . . some teachers seemed to be content with receiving the answers 
given in the book. . . . Such parrot-like recitations can be anything but interesting to the 
teacher or pupil. Let the teacher, by familiar inquiries and explanations, know that the 
subject ... is fully understood." Ibid., 1841, 40. 

"Ibid., 8. 95 Ibid., 75. 

60258°— 22 10 



A glimpse into one of the progressive schoolrooms of 1829 shows u 
grammar being taught far in advance of its time. William A. Alcott, 
afterwards associated with Woodbridge in the editorship of the Ameri- 
can Journal of Education and the author of many articles on methods 
of teaching, as a young man taught a district school of Southington, 
Conn. Here he made marked advances especially in the teaching of 
etymology. The account of his method of teaching pupils the mean- 
ing of a verb reminds one of the actions often seen to-day in the class- 
rooms of modern-language teachers who pursue what is known as 
" the direct method." Without any preliminary information in 
regard to what he was going to do, Alcott would ask the pupils to 
take their slates and pencils. Then stamping the floor or clapping 
his hands he would require them to write down what they saw him do. 
This process he would have repeated with the actions of the pupils as 
well as his own. " Now," he would say, " what have you been doing? " 
He would point out that the words they had written described actions. 
** These words describing actions are verbs. Now, what is a verb? " 
In this manner the children were said to acquire as much knowledge 
in 10 lessons as in an entire term under the older methods. 96 

The second feature of the educational revival which affected instruc- 
tion in grammar was the attention given to visual and oral instruction. 
In 1839 the school committee of Roxbury, Mass., struck a note not 
frequently heard, namely, that the force of the teacher's example in 
speaking and writing is the most important agency of instruction. 
Their statement was that — 

teachers should take care not to undo all their efforts to teach grammar by the 
bad example of using false grammar themselves. They should watch over 
their own . . . modes of address, as well as those of the children, for example's 
sake. . . . It is necessary that teachers be . . . exemplary in conversation. . . , ,T 


The teacher's example is not a direct phase of what is known as 
oral instruction. The term means rather that children are taught 
principles by word of mouth; that is, the explanatory talks which 
Kirkham had included in his text are to be presented in simple expla- 
nations by the teachers themselves. This practice was so unfamiliar 
in some towns that it attracted the notice of visiting committees, as 
that of Newbury, Mass., which wrote, in 1839: "Another improve- 
ment we noticed was the method of some teachers of communicating 
knowledge . . . by familiar conversation and by questions on com- 
mon subjects." 98 The Egermont committee of 1843 found occasion 
to praise — 

86 Barnard, Ed. Biog., 261 ; also Am. J. of Ed. IV, 641. 

87 Sen. Ret. (1839), 365. 

88 Ibid., 1839, 33. 


the example in the winter school of district No. 2, of much oral instruction 
instead of the common practice of very rigid confinement to the lesson book; 
... a good teacher can talk into a child, in the space of three or four months, 
an amount ... of practical knowledge . . . which the child could not read into 
himself in the space of as many years." 

Horace Mann, reviewing Edward's " First Lessons in Grammar," 
1843, asserts: 

If a child is made to feel that the subject [grammar] is hard to understand 
and that he is expected to grope his way in darkness ... he will be very likely 
to construct a prejudice against it. . . . Many a teacher has felt that there 
must be a better way of teaching grammar. . . . Edward's "First Lessons" 
is not the old process of committing to memory and repeating. ... A method 
is given by which a teacher explains whatever is difficult to the learner. . . . 
The book is the substance of lessons in grammar given orally by the author in 
school. 1 

This same note is struck by an editorial by William B. Fowle in 

Grammar can be taught by oral instruction, by correcting the ungrammatical 
language of the pupils, and by the example of the teacher much more easily and 
more effectively than by committing to memory and reciting. ... An accom- 
plished teacher may do more for a class of 20 in one hour, by exercises on the 
blackboard, than he can do in a whole day for an individual who studies and 
parses from a textbook. 8 

The first 24 pages of William H. Wells's " School Grammar," 1846, 
are devoted to a section on oral instruction in English grammar, pre- 
pared at the request of Barnard, at the time commissioner of public 
schools in Rhode Island, and already published as one of Jiis series of 
educational tracts. 3 This section is not a part of the grammar itself 
but is frankly given over to explicit directions to teachers as to how 
to use the inductive methods and how to use illustrative exercises in 
composition. 4 One hundred and fifty thousand of these textbooks 
were sold in the first five years. We have seen that his books 

"Ibid. (1843), 188. 

* Com. Sch. J., 1843, 167-8. 

"After the part of speech . . . had been defined by the teacher and clearly compre- 
hended by the pupils, they went to their seat to write examples in a book kept for that 
purpose. It was sometimes found that listening to an explanation . . . and conversing 
. . . were not sufficient ... on which account a textbook was required. This construc- 
tive exercise is extremely interesting ; children are pleased with doing something." Ibid. 

'Com. Sch. J. (1850), 146. 

8 Wells, Sch. Gram., preface, IV. 

*A sample of Wells's advice concerning instruction in the parts of speech may be 
quoted : " The classification of words may be introduced by referring to the different kinds 
of trees : to the different kinds of animals ; or to any other collection of objects that 
admit of a regular division into distinct classes. Thus when we go into a forest, we fiDd 
that the number of trees about us is greater than we can estimate. But we soon observe 
that a certain portion of them have certain resemblances, while they differ essentially 
from all the rest ; ... by extending our observation, we find ... all trees . . . belong 
to a few very simple classes, . . . Oak trees, . . . Pine trees. . . . Just so it is with the 
words of our language. ... By some introductory illustration the curiosity of a class 
of beginners may be excited. . . The teacher should lead his pupils to take an active 
part in these lessons from the beginning." Ibid., II, 12. 


were scattered through various States. Wells himself later became 
superintendent of schools in Chicago. It is probable that his infli 
ence more than that of any other man really introduced oral instruc 
tion and explanation into classroom instruction in English grammar 
Visual instruction was also brought into the field of teaching gram- 
mar after 1825. As late as 1835 the idea of using slates and black- 
boards was exceedingly novel ; in only a few schools does it appear to 
have been attempted before that time. William A. Alcott, whom we 
have seen above dispensing with grammar books as far as possible, 
testifies that in 1830 " the idea of studying grammar with slates and 
pencils was so novel that I found no difficulty in gaining general 
attention." Children wrote names of different objects held before 
them; they read the lists aloud, classified them, and wrote new lists 
of objects of which they could think. Thus was employed a combi- 
nation method of visual instruction and pupils' activity. 5 Rules and 
regulations for the schools of Salem, Mass., require that " every lesson 
(in grammar) shall be accompanied by operations on the blackboard . 
and slates (from the younger pupils), and exercises in parsing shall 
be required from the older classes." 6 In an article on normal schools, 
in 1843, the advice is given that — 

the first principles should be taught orally and by the blackboard and slate. So 
taught, they are easy and pleasant, and throw valuable light upon the arts of 
reading and composition. The use of the blackboard is very important. Write 
on the board, " It is she," not " It is her ! " Require the pupils to make for 
themselves, and write on their slates, ten examples of similar mistakes, and 
their corrections. The rule is learnt better than by months of repeating the 
rule in parsing, where the mind is little better than passive. 7 

Again, James Ray, a prominent teacher of this decade, in 1830 
advises : 

In the study of Grammar the blackboard may be used to exhibit the inflec- 
tions of the various parts of speech ; it may also be used in syntax, to point out 
the connection of the principal words to each other. The method of doing this 
is by writing on the board the sentence to be parsed, and then connecting by 
curved lines those words that have any grammatical connection with each 
other. The instructor at the same time pointing out what that relation is. It 
may be observed that in teaching grammar the use of the blackboard is con- 
fined to the teaching the elementary principles of the science, [and] is used by 
the teacher for the purpose of illustrating these principles. 8 

The foregoing is the earliest reference the writer has seen pointing 
to the use of diagrams, which, after the middle of the century, came 
into great prominence in the analysis of sentences. 

Massachusetts school committees often spoke in commendation of 
the new movement for blackboards facilitating instruction in gram- 

«Am. An. of Ed. and Ins. (1837), 165. 

•Com. Sen. J. (1842), 78. 

»Ibid. (1843), 331 

•Ray, Transactions of College Teachers, VI, 104. 


mar. For instance, the Dighton committee said, in 1843 : " The black- 
board has been introduced into several schools. ... By means of 
this the study of Orthography and English Grammar has been 
facilitated." 9 

Samuel J. May gi.ves a hint concerning the very earliest appear- 
ances of blackboards, when, describing a visit to the school of Rev. 
Father Francis Brosius in Boston, in 1814, he said : " On entering 
his room we were struck at the appearance of a Blackboard suspended 
on the wall. ... I had never seen such a thing before . . . and there 
I first witnessed the process of analytical and inductive teaching." 10 
It is quite certain, however, that not for two decades after 1814 did 
the rank and file of Massachusetts schools adopt this device now 
regarded as so indispensable for visual instruction. William C. 
Woodbridge, in the report of a Boston school committee on improve- 
ments, in 1833, strongly recommended slates and cards in the primary 
schools. He added that means for visual instruction were positively 
forbidden in Boston by the general committee. 11 In the common 
schools of Connecticut as late as 1832 " slates, blackboards, and appa- 
ratus are almost entirely unknown in the district schools," a commit- 
tee on common schools testified. 12 Massachusetts counties in general 
waited for the boards until after 1840. 13 


The third prominent feature of innovating methods before 1850 
was the introduction of constructive work on the part of the pupils, 
which gradually took the form of composition. Of course dictation 
and copying exercises were very old, 14 and disputations dated far 
before the beginnir^s of instruction in the vernacular. Moreover, 
writing of a sort had accompanied work in grammar in the days of 
Murray's dominance in American schools. But composition as an 
adjunct to the study of grammar did not become prominent until 
Barnard, Fowle, Mann, Carter, Rand, and others championed and 
advanced it. Fowle, in an editorial of 1852, says that — 

even now, a large number of our schools have no composition taught in them. 
No wonder, for not one teacher in 10 can write with tolerable ease and correct- 
ness. In an institute in Massachusetts (1850) we required 117 teachers to 
write what they could in fifteen minutes on " happiness." At the end of fifteen 
minutes, but seven teachers had done anything, and four of these had requested 
to be excused from writing. The three more periods of fifteen minutes were 
given, and only twenty teachers had been able to write anything in the end. 

•An. Kept. Supt. Ed. (1843), 234. 

10 Barnard, Ed. Biog., 38. 

11 Am. An. of Ed. and Ins. (1833). 587. 
"Ibid. (1832), 248. 

" Ashbunham comments, in 1841 : " Schoolrooms have been more generally furnished 
with blackboards.' Kept. Supt. Ed. (1841), 71. See also ibid., 78; 1843, 234; 1841, 27. 
« See Chap. V, p. 127. 



Fowle then pertinently asks : " How can such teachers give instruc 
tion in English Grammar ? " 15 

The Massachusetts school reports are especially clear in indicating 
that composition as such was a product of the decade 1830 and 1840. 
In 1840 Sterling reported that " the exercise of composition has been 
introduced into some schools with encouraging success. This impor- 
tant branch has been too much neglected in former years. . . . Eng- 
lish Composition should come next in order ... to grammar." 16 

The committee of Carver, in 1839, explained that 20 years earlier 
the art of composing and writing received no attention : 

It is true we were set to making marks, and dashing and pointing them with 
our pens (writing) . . . but . . . there are but few now, who were scholars 
then, that can compose, write and fold a letter, in a handsome form, as large 
numbers of our children from ten to fifteen years of age can." 

The Rockport committee " urged upon the more advanced scholars, 
who are acquainted with grammar, the importance of writing com- 
position. . . . This should be a standing exercise in our schools. . . . 
This exercise is too much regarded as a matter of form." 18 Here it 
is to be noted that composition first came into the curriculum only 
after the pupil had some acquaintance with grammar. Later periods 
reversed the order, composition preceding grammar. This consti- 
tutes a very important consideration. The committee of Dana, in 
1843, commended oral composition in the following language : 

The practice was particularly recommended by the committee, of urging the 
classes, instead of giving arbitrary rules from the book, to explain their opera- 
tion, and to give their reasons in their own language. . . . Exercises in com- 
position have been attended to in some of the schools. 19 

Only one Massachusetts committee, in 1843, found a satisfactory 
condition : 

In the juvenile department in this school there was a new thing exhibited at 
the examination, about fifteen letters, and pieces of original composition, writ- 
ten by little children under ten years of age, and written with a simplicity, 
correctness and beauty, which surprised as much as it delighted us. M 

The list of questions which Barnard sent to the Connecticut teach- 
ers (1838-1841, inclusive) are indicative of the most advanced thought 
of the day. 21 

1. Do you classify your pupils in reference to teaching composition? 

2. Do you accustom your youngest pupils to write or print words and short 
sentences on the slate, from your dictation? 

3. Do you ask them to print or write something about what they have seen in 
coming to school, or read in the reading lesson? 

4. As a preliminary exercise in composition, do you engage them in familiar 
talk about something they have seen in their walk, or has happened in or about 

"Com. Sch. J. (1852). 375. 19 Ibid. (1843), 83. 

"Mass. Sch. Ret. (1840), 123. 2° Ibid. (1843), 215. 

"Ibid. (1839), 413. "Am. J. of Ed., I, 692. 
18 Ibid. (1841), 27. 


the school? and when they have got ideas, and can clothe them orally in words, 
do you allow them as a privilege to write or print the same 011 the slate or 

5. Do you give out a number of words, and then ask your pupils to frame 
sentences in which those words are used? 

6. Do you require your older pupils to keep a journal or give an account of the 
occurrences of the day, as an exercise in composition? 

7. Do you instruct your pupils as to the most approved form of dating, com- 
mencing, and closing a letter? 

8. Do you require your pupils to write a letter in answer to some supposed 
inquiries about some matter of fact? 

9. Do you request your older pupils to write out what they can recollect of a 
sermon or lecture they have heard, or of a book they have been reading? 

10. At what age do your pupils usually commence writing easy sentences or 

The exceeding reluctance with which authors of treatises on gram- 
mar and teachers of this subject came to the realization that construc- 
tive written work on the part of pupils ought to accompany every 
stage of their progress is clearly marked in America before 1850. 
Priestley as early as 1772 recommends the practice in his preface, 22 
but neither his nor contemporary textbooks are constructed with this 
purpose in mind. Even earlier than Priestley we have seen the 
Philadelphia Academy and other schools of advanced ideas employ- 
ing composition, but not primarily as an adjunct to grammar. 23 But 
the fact is that the practice was not prevalent in American schools. 
This is evident not only from the complete absence of suggestions 
for composition in the earlier grammars but also from frequent 
testimony. 24 

22 " We must introduce into the schools English grammar, English composition, and 
frequent English translations from authors in other languages. The common objection 
to English Compositions, that it is like requiring brick to be made without straw (boys not 
being supposed to be capable of so much reflection, as is necessary to treat any subject 
with propriety) is a very frivolous one since it is very easy to contrive a variety of exer- 
cises introductory to themes upon moral and scientific subjects, in many of which the 
whole attention may be employed upon language only ; and from thence youth may be led 
on in a regular series of compositions, in which the transition from language to sentiment 
may be as gradual and easy as possible." Priestley, 3d ed., preface, XXI. 

» See Chap. Ill, p. 46. 

2 * " We were two or three years in grammar ; ... we were never required to write a 
sentence of English, and we never did write one as a school exercise." Wallis, speaking 
of Boston schools about 1800. Com. Sch. J. (1850), 5. 

'•We were educated at one of the best schools . . . but, although we studied English 
grammar seven years and received a silver medal for our proficiency, we never wrote a 
sentence of English at school and never did anything which implied a suspicion on 
our part that grammar had anything to do with writing or conversation." Ibid., editorial 
(1849), 258. 

" Composition was unknown to us. We were supposed to acquire ' the art of writing 
the English Language with propriety' by a textbook study of Orthography, Etymology. 
Syntax and Prosody, without writing even a sentence." Swett, speaking of the period, 
1830-1840, Am. Pub. Sch., 122. 

" We think it would be but a counterpart to our grammars for children if some philoso- 
pher were to publish a treatise as a mode for discovering the center of gravity, and the 
laws of motion, in order to teach the children how to walk and run." Review of Everst's 
English Grammar, 1835, Am. An. of Ed. and Ins. (1835), 429. 


It is significant, then, to find grammars after 1820 deliberately 
planning exercises in composition. They do not attempt " themes 
upon moral and scientific subjects," as Priestley advised ; indeed, their 
suggestions for written work may not properly be called composition 
at all. Koswell Smith's title, " Sentences to be written," is far more 
exact. Kirkham had nothing to contribute to this advance, content- 
ing himself with elaborate parsing and false syntax. Goold Brown 
follows Murray in placing exercises after each of the four divisions 
of his grammar, urging that the pupils " should write out " 25 their 
answers. Smith is entitled to the credit of making the first distinctive 
step toward the practice of sentence building. Scattered through his 
text are numerous headings entitled " Sentences to be written." The 
purpose is to -employ the constructive activities of pupils as a means 
of fixing the grammatical principles they have just been studying. 26 
Remembering the dates of Smith's books — 1829 and 1831 — we see 
that he stands in point of time at the head of the movement for com- 
position in Massachusetts discussed above. 27 

Wells, in 1846, urged that teachers write models on the board, and 
that they also write lists of words and have the pupils compose sen- 
tences embracing them. He goes a step in advance, advising : "After 
the pupils have in this manner exemplified the various modifications 
of the parts of speech, they should be required to write several com- 
positions of considerable length." 28 Naturally we find Greene, in his 
"Analysis of Sentences," taking even more advanced ground. In his 
preface he affirms that " the only successful method of obtaining a 
knowledge of that art (writing and speaking correctly) is by. means 
of construction and analysis. 29 In the text proper construction exer- 
cises begin on page 13, a footnote saying : " These exercises may be 
written or recited orally. It is recommended that the practice of writ- 

25 English Grammar, 100. 

M Sentences to be written : 

" ' Q. Will yon compose two sentences, each having a different adjective pronoun ? One, 
having a demonstrative pronoun? One, having an indefinite pronoun used as a noun?'" 
Eng. Gram. Prod. Sys., 58. 

21 Richard G. Parker's book. " Progressive Exercises in English Composition," Boston, 
1832, enjoyed a remarkable sale. It reached its forty-fifth edition in 1845. New editions 
were published in 1855 and 1856. Parker published a " Sequel " in 1835 and. in 1844, 
"Aids to English Composition." which reached its twentieth edition in 1850. The sal» of 
these series is indicative of the trend toward composition. Parker, collaborating with C. 
Fox, in 1834, published also " Progressive Exercises in English Grammar." Part II, 1835, 
Part III, 1840. A favorable review of the first book describes it as being " without a 
formidable array of long definitions and unintelligible rules." Am. An. of Ed. and Ins. 
(1835), 47. 

28 Sch. Gram., 24. 

29 Analysis. 4. Contrast this with Goold Brown's statement : " The only successful 
method of teaching grammar is to cause the principal definitions and rules to be com- 
mitted thoroughly to memory, that they may ever afterwards be readily applied." Brown, 
preface, VI. The contrasted statements indicate the two radically different conceptions of 
grammatical instruction, one of which was passing, the other of which was entering, in 


ing lessons should be adopted as a general rule." 30 Moreover, Greene 
desires that " the exercises, after being corrected, should be copied 
into a writing book." 31 

As may be expected, it is impossible to assign a date at which con- 
structive work, closely associated with grammatical study, entered 
school practice. However, it appears safe to say that it was the out- 
come of the influences we have seen at work in the period between 
1825 and 1850. 32 The discussion may be fittingly closed' by citing the 
practice of two schools, which for their generation were exceedingly 
progressive. A teacher of 1830, describing methods which he has 
found profitable, recommends voluntary composition, the pupils to 
continue their work on their own account by keeping journals. The 
variety of exercises suggested includes writing abstracts from mem- 
ory; taking notes on lectures; abridgments; dialogues, real and 
imaginary; stories for children; narratives of personal adventure; 
discussion of questions; and the like. The voluntary reading of 
articles at stated periods is also recommended. 33 Of course this pro- 
cedure is exceedingly advanced; it is practically composition as we 
understand the term to-day. A more representative program of the 
period in question is found in the following account of a female school 
of Boston in 1832 : 

Care has been taken to improve all occasional opportunities of directing the 
attention of the pupils to the etymology, the signification, and the appropriate 
use of words, as they occur in connection, and while the interest felt in their 
meaning is still fresh in the mind. Exercises in the defining of words and in the 
distinguishing synonyms are occasionally prescribed. The practice of substi- 
tuting equivalent words, phrases, sentences, and thoughts is likewise employed. 
The analysis of figurative language to the same end, A practical course in 
grammar is comprehended in the daily exercises in composition and a systematic 
view of the principles of the science has been taken. 34 


Methods of teaching grammar have now been traced for about 100 
years from its beginnings in America about 1750 to the middle of the 
nineteenth century. For the first 75 years instruction centered almost 

30 Analysis. 13. 

81 Ibid., 18, 1. 

32 John Flint, who published " First Lessons in English Grammar upon a Plan Inductive 
and Intellectual," in 1833, deserves credit for pioneer work in sentence building, antedat- 
ing Greene 12 years. An editorial in the American Annals says : " Decidedly thp best 
introductory work we have seen. The pupil's knowledge is given by examples and sen- 
tences in which he finds words corresponding to definitions, and the pupil writes sentences 
as soon as may be." Am. An. of Ed. and Ins. (1833). 334. Dyer H. Sanborn's "Analytical 
Grammar," 1836. receives similar commendation. Ibid. (1837), 143. F. W. Felch's "A 
Comprehensive Grammar," 1837. affirms on the title page : " Designed to make the study 
of grammar and composition one and the same process." Ibid. (1837), 525. Of Wells and 
Greene a committee on Boston free schools declared, in 1851, that they were adopted " all 
over the land " as a protest against teaching Murray's Latin grammar for English." Cora. 
Sch. J. (1851), 36. 

S3 Erodore, Am. An. of Ed. and Ins., I, 266-9. 

"Am. An. of Ed. and Ins. (1832), 215. 


entirely around memorizing, correcting false syntax, and parsing. Of 
these all three were transferred directly from practices customary in 
studying Latin grammar. About the year 1823 changes began to 
creep into class instruction. Although the three traditional methods 
still predominated, especially* parsing and memorizing, influences 
were at work which made the need of remedies felt in the educational 
revival of the second quarter of the century. Most conspicuous among 
the innovations were, first, earnest efforts to make the pupils under- 
stand; second, visual and oral instruction; and, third, the beginnings 
of constructive work. Most conspicuous among grammarians were 
Kirkham and Smith, Wells and Greene ; among educational leaders, 
Carter, Rand, Barnard, and Mann. The results of their labors were 
indeed a veritable revolution, both in the conception of grammar and 
in the methods of instruction, a revolution the nature of which is 
well illustrated by comparing Goold Brown's statement of 1823 with 
the corresponding statement of Greene in 1847 : 

The only successful method of teaching grammar is to cause the principal 
definitions and rules to be committed thoroughly to memory. ( Brown. ) 

The only successful method of obtaining a knowledge of the art is by means 
of construction and analysis. 35 (Greene.) 

88 Consideration of methods after 1850 is reserved for another study. Between 1850 and 
1920 we may distinguish three fairly marked periods : That of 1847-1873, which may be 
termed the inductive period, characterized by the methods whose origin has just been 
presented ; that of 1873-1891, which may be termed the rhetorical period, marked by Swin- 
ton's "Language Lessons," White's grammars (1871), the Harvard entrance require- 
ments of 1873, and the Connecticut order dropping grammar in 1891 ; and that of 1891- 
1920, which may be termed the elimination period or the incidental study period, the chief 
tendency of which is the gradual subordination of formal grammar to its proper place as 
incidental to the study of composition and literature. 



Henry Barnard, speaking of his list of early American textbooks, 36 
indicates the viewpoint in which the present list is compiled. He 
says : " This information in many cases is very imperfect and unsatis- 
factory, but it will at least serve as the clue to further inquiry ; . . . 
many errors . . . and omissions will doubtless be detected in regard 
to those books which the compiler has not seen, and whose titles, dates, 
and places of publication and authorship have been gleaned from 
numerous sources not always reliable." 


1706. Greenwood, James. Essay Toward a Practical English Grammar, 2d ed., 

London, 1711, 12°, 315 pp. 
1724- Jones, Hugh. A Short English Grammar: An Accidence to the English 

Tongue. London. 

See Chapter II for further description of the first 10 grammars in this list. 
1740. Dilworth, Thomas. A New Guide to the English Tongue, Containing a 

Brief but Comprehensive English Grammar. London. 
1751. Harris, James. Hermes, or a Philosophical Inquiry Concerning Universal 

Grammar. 6th ed., 1806, 468 pp., 8°. 

Harris's work was not a textbook, but was influential in shaping most of 

the grammars earliest in America. Murray acknowledges his indebtedness. 

(Introduction, 5.) Harris was an innovator and simplifler among gram- 
marians, using only four classes of words, after Aristotle. Book reprinted 

in Philadelphia. Wickersham, Hist, of Ed. in Pa., 202. Reached 7th ed., 

1825. Com. Sch J., Ill, 209. 

175 — . Wiseman, . English Grammar. 

Advertised, Boston Evening Post, Oct. 27, 1760. 
1753. Fisher, A. A Practical New Grammar. 28th ed., London, 1795, 176 pp., 


Follows Harris with four kinds of speech ; no cases, no moods, only three 

tenses. Brown used "A New Edition, Enlarged, Improved and Corrected, 

1758. Lowth. Robert. A Short Introduction to English Grammar. 1st Amer. 

ed., London, 1775, 132 pp. 12°. 

38 Barnard's list, Am. J. of Ed., XII, XIII, XIV; also William H. Wells's list in the 
preface of his "A Grammar of the English Language.'' Boston, 1852, edition. A writer 
who signs himselt W. H. W. (probably William II. Wells) began a series of articles on 
English grammars in The Common School Journal Illness compelling him to cease his 
labors, another writer who signs his articles " Wallis " (probably W. M. Fowle), con- 
tinued the series under the title " Grammars Published in America before 1804." C. S. J., 
IX, X, XI, XII. A fourth list, "American Textbooks," anonymous, is found in Barnard's 
American Journal of Education, 14, 600. For all books published in America before 1792 
Evans's "American Bibliography " is the standard source. Evans is not infallible, how- 
ever ; a few books before 1792 have apparently not come to his attention. Goold Brown, 
in his " Grammar of Grammars," 1851, presents a list of some 350 authors or compilers of 
grammatical textbooks. 

The present writer has added several items of information, mostly fragmentary, from 
announcements of publishers, from book reviews in the early educational journals, and 
from stray references in town histories, reports of school societies, addresses in educa- 
tional conventions, and pedagogical tracts. 



1160. [Anonymous.] The British Grammar. 1st American ed., 1784, 251 

PP., 8°. 
1760. Gough* James. English Grammar. 212 pp., 18°. 

Advertised, Providence Gazette, Oct. 24, 1767. 1760 is date of 2d ed. "A 

publication of little merit, much of it borrowed from earlier writers." W. H. 

Wells, Com Sch. J., Ill, 210. 

1762. Priestley, Joseph. The Rudiments of English Grammar. 3d ed., London, 

202 pp., IS . 

Reprinted in Philadelphia. Wickersham, op. cit., 202. Simplifier, like 
Harris and Fisher. "A production of little merit." Wells, op. cit., 229. 

1763. Ash, John. Grammatical Institutes, or an Easy Introduction to Dr. 

Lowth's English Grammar. London, 163 pp. 24°. 

First American reprint, 1774, by Hugh Gaine, New York. Evans, 5, 5. 

1765. Johnson, Somuel. An English Grammar; the First Easy Rudiments of 

Grammar Applied to the English Tongue By One Who is Extremely 
Desirous to Promote Good Literature in America, and Especially a 
Right English Education for the Use of Schools. New York, 36 pp.. 

This appears to have been the first English grammar prepared by an 
American and published in America. Evans, Am. Bibl., 4, 18, 10025. See 
Chap. II, p. 35. 

1766. Burn, John. A Practical Grammar of the English Language. Glasgow, 


1767. Buchanan, James. A Regular English Syntax. 194 pp., 12°. 

First American reprint, 1780. Evans, 6, 68. "A most egregious plagiarism, 
borrowed from the British Grammar, half the volume copied verbatim." 
Wells, op. cit., 3, 237. 

1772. Adam, Alexander. Latin and English Grammar. Edinburgh. 

"An English Grammar that was connected with Adams's Latin Grammar 
. . . far more English than Murray's." Wallis, Com. Sch. J., XII, 118. 

1773, Byerley, Thomas. A Plain and Easy Introduction to English Grammar. 

New York. 
177 — . Hall, James. English Grammar. 

Hall founded a school (1778) In Bethany, N. C. He conducted classes in 

English grammar ; wrote and published a book that had wide circulation. 

Raper, The Church and Private Schools of North Carolina, 55, citing Foote's 

Sketches, 336. 
1779. Curtis, Abel. A Compend of English Grammar, Being an Attempt to 

Point Out the Fundamental Principles of the English Language. 

Dresden (Dartmouth College), 49 pp., 16°. 
Benezet, Anthony. An Essay Toward the Most Easy Introduction to the 

Knowledge of the English Grammar. 6 pp., 12°. 
Compiled for the Pennsylvania Spelling Book. Evans lists the grammar 

also as a separate book. Evans, 6, 4. 
178^. Webster, Noah, jr. A Grammatical Institute of the English Language. 

In three parts. Part 2, Containing a Plain and Comprehensive 

Grammar Grounded on the True Principles and Idioms of the 

Language. Hartford. 139 pp., 16°. 
Kenrick, William. A Rhetorical Grammar of the English Language. 


1785. Bingham, Caleb. The Young Ladies Accidence; or a Short and Easy 

Introduction to English Grammar; Designed Principally for the 
Use of Young Learners, More Especially Those of the Fair Sex, 
though Suitable to Both. Boston, 45 pp., 16°. 

1786. Mennye, J. An English Grammar. New York. 

1787. Ussher, George M. The Elements of English Grammar. London. 

American edition, 1790, Portsmouth, N. H. Evans, 8, 98. Printed for 
J. Metcher, especially for young ladies. 3d Am. ed. in 1804, Exeter, N. H. 


1787. Harrison, Ralph. Rudiments of English Grammar. Philadelphia, 102 
pp.. 18°. 

Mentioned by Wickersham as one of the first used in Pennsylvania. Hist, 
of Ed. in Pa., 202. An English book, 9th ed., Philadelphia, 1812. 
178 — . [Anonymous.] A Comprehensive Grammar. Philadelphia, 173 pp., 18°. 
1789 is date of 3d ed. Evans, 7, 305. 

1790. Webster. Noah. The Rudiments of English Grammar. Hartford, 80 pp., 


The Rudiments was first printed as part 2 of the Little Readers' Assistant ; 
then, at the request of the Hartford school authorities, was twice printed 
as a separate book, in 1790. Evans, 8, 105. 

1791. Hutchins. Joseph. An Abstract of the First Principles of English Gram- 

mar. Hartford, 24°. 

Mentioned by George A. Plimpton. Murray, Hist, of Ed. in N. J., 51. 
" Compiled for the use of his own school." Title page, Evans, 8, 164. 

1792. Alexander, Caleb. A Grammatical System of the English Language. 

Boston. 96 pp., 12°. 

" Comprehending a Plain and Familiar Scheme of Teaching Young Gentle- 
men and Ladies the Art of Speaking and Writing correctly their Native 
Tongue." Evans, 8, 242. 10th ed., Keene, N. H., 1814. 
[Anonymous.] The Young Gentlemen and Ladies' Accidence, or a Com- 
pendious Grammar of the English Tongue, Plain and Easy. Boston. 
Attributed to Noah Webster. 
Humphries, Daniel. The Compendious American Grammar, or Gram- 
matical Institutes in Verse. Portsmouth, N. H, 71 pp., 12°. 

Tichnor, Elisha. English Exercises. 2 pp., 18°. 

1792 is 3d ed. "All the rules of Parsing . . . facilitates grammatical 
knowledge." Evans, 8, 363. 
17,9//. Knowles, John. Principles of English Grammar. 3d ed. 

1795. Carroll, James. American Criterion of English Grammar. New London, 


Dearborn, Benjamin. The Columbian Grammar. Boston, 12°. 

George A. Plimpton assigns date, 1792. Murray, Hist, of Ed. in N. J., 51. 

Used the question-and-answer method. 
Miller. Alexander. Concise Grammar of the English Tongue. 119 pp., 

Murray, Lindley. English Grammar, Adapted to the Different Classes 

of Learners. London. 

1796. An English Grammar. 

Barnard lists, by printer ; information very fragmentary. 
Xyg — , Bullard, Asa. An Abridgment of Murray's English Grammar, by a 
Teacher of Youth. Boston. 

10th ed. in 1817. Succeeded Bingham's Young Ladies' Accidence in Bos- 
ton schools. 
1897. Burr, Jonathan. A Compendium of English Grammar. Boston, 72 pp., 

17.97. Macintosh, Duncan. An Essay on English Grammar. Boston, 239 pp., 8°. 
179 — . Marshall. English Grammar. 

Written by an American author, contemporary of Webster ; date uncer- 
tain. Mentioned in Education in New Hampshire, Am. Ann. of Ed. and Ins., 
1833, 435. 

1799. Stanford, Daniel. A Short but Comprehensive English Grammar. 18°. 

2d ed. in 1800, 4th in 1807. "Fell into the traces of Murray." Wallis, 
Com. Sch. ,L, 12, 203. Brown says 1st ed. 1807, 96 pp., 12°. 

1800. Woodbridge, William. Plain and Concise Grammar. 

George A. Plimpton, Hist, of Ed. in N. J., 51. 

1801. Gurney, David. English Grammar. Boston. 18°. 

2d ed.. 1808. Brown. Barnard calls it " Columbian Accidence." 

1802. Cochran, Peter. An English Grammar. Boston, 71 pp., 18°. 





(From Observations on Liberal Educa- 
tion (1742), 1762, ed\, 4-9.) 


(Smyth, Writings of Benj. Franklin. 

II, 391 et seq.) 


" One exercise should be daily to write 
a page of English, and after that to 
examine every word by the grammar 
rules, and every sentence they have 
composed, to oblige them to give an 
account of the * English syntax and 

" The English Language might be 
taught by Grammar." 


". . . who thinks it worth while learn- 
ing to write this (mother tongue)? 
Every one is suffered to form his own 
stile by chance; to imitate the first 
wretched model which falls in his way, 
before he knows what is faulty, or can 
relish the beauties of a just simplicity. 
. . . Right education would have . . . 
taught them to acquire habits of writ- 
ing their own language easily under 
right direction; and this would have 
been useful to them as long as they 

"The Stiles principally to be culti- 
vated being the clear and the concise. 
. . . To form their Stile, they should 
be put on Writing Letters to each 
other, making Abstracts of what they 
read; or writing the same Things in 
their own Words; telling or writing 
Stories lately read, in their own re- 
pressions. All to be revis'd and cor- 
rected by the Tutor." 


" I need not advise you to give them 
a taste of our best poets." 

" Some of our best Writers, as Tilled 
son, Addison, Pope. Algernon Sidney. 
Cato's letters, etc., should be classiks/' 


". . . obliging them to speak every day 
their unwritten thought on any sub- 
ject in English. Let them read an Ora- 
tion on Tully or Livy . . . then shut 
the book, and speak the sense of it ex 

" Repeating Speeches, delivering Ora- 




" Make them read aloud gracefully, 
an accomplishment that many men . . . 
cannot perform, because they are 
either unexperienced or bashful." 

"To form their Pronunciation they 
may be put oh Declamations. . . . 

Reading should also be taught and 
pronouncing, properly, distincting, em- 


" Where is English taught at pres- 
ent? Who thinks of it of use to study 
correctly the language which he is to 
use in daily life? ... It is in this 
that nobility and gentry defend their 
country ; ... it is in this that lawyers 
plead, the divines instruct, and all 
ranks of people write their letters and 
transact all their affairs." 

" It is therefore propos'd that they 
learn those Things that are likely to 
be most useful. . . . Regard being had 
to the several Professions for which 
they are intended." 

Between the passages in Turnbull and in the proposals of Franklin there is 
one striking dissimilarity. The former is outspoken in his condemnation of 
Latin as a medium of universal education. Franklin, who in other places voices 
the same sentiment, in his proposals contents himself merely with strong 
emphasis upon English as the "most useful" and "most natural." Smyth, op. 
cit., 38&-96. The explanation is simple: Turnbull was writing a book frankly 
to substitute the vernacular and the realities for classical instruction, while 
Franklin was propounding the program for a school he wished to establish. The 
former could afford to denounce the opposition, the latter could not. As always 
the practical man is cautious, conciliatory, compromising. The student of 
Franklin's early advocacy of the mother tongue is frequently struck by the 
extreme diplomacy with which he sought to bring it forward. 




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The Perpetual Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from the 

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Springfield. Reports of the School Committee for 1853-61. Springfield, 


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60258°— 22 11 161 


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Brinsley, John. Ludus Literaris, or The Grammar Schoole; Shewing How To 
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Carlisle, Nicholas. A Concise Description of the Endowed Grammar Schools 
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Carter, James G. Letters to the Hon. William Prescott on the Schools of New 
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Fordyce, David. Dialogues Concerning Education. 2d ed. London, 1745. 

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The Writings of Benjamin Franklin; Collected and Edited, wijth a Life 

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1 Various other minor texts consulted, named in Appendix B. 



[Anonymous.] The British Grammar, or an Essay in Four Parts, Towar 
Speaking and Writing the English Language Grammatically and Inditing 
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[Anonymous.] A Grammar of the English Tongue, with the Arts of Log 
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Brown, Goold. The Institutes of English Grammar, Methodically Arranged 
with Examples for Parsing, Questions for Examination, False Syntax for 
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Grammar of English Grammars. New York, 1850. 

The First Lines of English Grammar; Being a Brief Abstract of the 

Author's Larger Work. Designed for Young Learners. New York, 1826. 

Bullion, Peter. The Principles of English Grammar, Comprising the Sub- 
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Dilworth, Thomas. A New Guide to the English Tongue, Containing a Short 
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Fisher, A. A Practical New Grammar, with Exercises of Bad English, or, an 
Easy Guide to Speaking and Writing the English Language Properly and 
Correctly. London, 1752. 10th ed., 1765. 

Greene, Samuel S. A Treatise on the Structure of the English Language, or the 
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Greenwood, James. An Essay Towards a Practical English Grammar, etc. 
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Johnson, Samuel. A Dictionary of the English Language ... To which are 
Prefixed a History of the Language, and an English Grammar. London, 

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Kirkham, Samuel. English Grammar in Familiar Lectures: Embracing a New 
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Lily, William. A Short Introduction of Grammar. London, 1542. 1726 ed., 
John Ward, ed. London, 1726. 

Lowth, Robert. A Short Introduction to English Grammar, with Critical Notes. 
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Murray, Lindley. English Grammar Adapted to the Different Classes of Learn- 
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Priestley, Joseph. The Rudiments of English Grammar. 3d ed., London, 1772. 

Smith, Roswell C. English Grammar on the Productiv^System : a Method of 
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Stereotyped ed., Philadelphia, 1838. 

Staniford, Daniel. A Short but Comprehensive Grammar, Rendered Simple and 
Easy by Familiar Questions and Answers, Adapted to the Capacity of 
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Webster, Noah. A Grammatical Institute of the English Language; compris- 
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Wells, William H. A Grammar of the English Language, for the Use of Schools. 

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American Journal of Education. Ed. by Horace Mann. Vols. I-V. Boston, 
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An Account of the Charity Schools Lately Erected in Great Britain and Ireland 
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Quincy, Josiah. History of Harvard University. 2 vols. Cambridge, 1840. 
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At water, Edward E. History of the Colony of New Haven to its Absorption into 

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Original Records, etc. Hartford, 1914. 
Mann, H. Historical Annals of Dedham, from its Settlement, 1635, to 1847. 

Dedham, 1847. 
Nash, Gilbert. Historical Sketch of the Town of Weymouth, Massachusetts, 

from 1622 to 1884, etc. Boston, 1885. 
Orcutt, William D. Good Old Dorchester, A Narrative History of the Town, 

1630-1893. Cambridge, 1893. 
Proud, Robert. The History of Pennsylvania, in North America, from the 

Original Institution and Settlement, etc., Written Principally between the 

Years 1776-1780. 2 vols. Philadelphia, 1797. 
Temple, J. H., and Sheldon, George. A History of the Town of Northfield, 

Massachusetts, for 150 years, etc. Albany, N. Y., 1875. 
Winthrop, John. The History of New England from 1630 to 1649. New ed. by 

James Savage. 2 vols. Boston, 1853. 


Barbour, F. A. The Teaching of English Grammar; History and Method. 
Boston, 1902. 

Barnard, Henry. First Public Schools of New England. American Journal 
of Education, I ; 27, 39, 97, 105, 121. 

History of the Common Schools of Connecticut. American Journal of 

Education, IV; 657-70; and V; 114-^54. 

Broome, G. C. A Historical and Critical Discussion of College Admission 
Requirements. New York, 1903. (Columbia University Contributions, V, 
Nos. 3-4.) 

Bush, George C. First Common Schools in New England. Washington, D. C, 
Government Printing Office, 1898. (U. S. Bureau of Education. Circular of 
Information No. 3.) 

Fitzpatrick, Edward A. The Educational Views and Influence of De Witt Clin- 
ton. New York, 1911. 

Germantown Academy; Centennial Anniversary of the Foundation. Phila- 
delphia, 1860. (A pamphlet.) 

Inglis, Alexander J. The Rise of the High School in Massachusetts. New 
York, 1911. 

Jernegan, Marcus W. The Beginnings of Public Education in New England. 
School Review, XXIII; 319-30, 361-80. 

Snow, Louis F. The College Curriculum in the United States. New York, 1907. 

Updegraff, Harlan. The Origin of the Moving School in Massachusetts. New 
York, 1907. 


Bigelow, John. The Life of Benjamin Franklin, etc. 3d ed. 3 vols. Phila- 
delphia, 1893. 

Dexter, F. B. Influences of the English Universities in the Development of 
New England. In Proceedings Massachusetts Historical Society, 1879-80. 

Eggleston, Edward. The Transit of Civilization from England to America in 
The Seventeenth Century. New York, 1901. 

Fithian, Philip V. Journal and letters, 1767-1774; Student at Princeton Col- 
lege, 1770-72, etc. Ed. by John R. Williams, Princeton, for the University 
Library, 1900. 

Ford, Paul L. The New England Primer ; a History of its Origin and Develop- 
ment, etc. New York, 1897. 

Hinsdale, B. A. Foreign Influence on Education in the United States. In 
Annual Report of the U. S. Commissioner of Education, 1897. 

Huey, Edmund B. The Psychology and Pedagogy of Reading, etc. New York, 

Tuer, Andrew W. History of the Horn-Book. London, The Leadenhall Press, 

Monroe, Paul, ed. A Cyclopedia of Education. Vols. 1-5. New York, 1911. 

Reeder, Rudolph R. The Historical Development of School Readers and 
Method in Teaching Reading. New York, 1900. 


Academy and Charity School of Philadelphia, 
history, 38, 43-49; influence, 49-55. 

Alcott, William A., on study of grammar, 148. 

Barnard, Henry, and reform in study of grammar, 
142-143, 150-151. 

Bearing of grammar on modern problems, 8-10. 

Beginnings of grammar, 8. 

Bible, emphasis on instruction, New England 
colonies, 16-17. 

Bibliography, 155-168. 

Bingham, Caleb, school in Boston, 78-79; textbook, 
79, 81. 

Blackboard, use, 149. 

Boston, Mass., introduction of grammar in schools, 

Brinsley, John, on memorizing rules, 113, 117; pars- 
ing, 120; study of Latin, 109. 

Brosius, Rev. Francis, school in Boston, 149. 

Brown, Goold, on grammar as an art, 107, 111, 114; 
memorizing rules, 138-139; parsing, 121; text- 
books, 84. 

Brown University, See Rhode Island College. 

Buchanan, James, on study of grammar, 114. 

Byerley, Thomas, methods of teaching grammar, 

Carew, Richard, on teaching English, 59. 

Charity schools, Great Britain and Ireland, curricu- 
lum, 14. 

Clajon, William, and instruction in English gram- 
mar at Annapolis, Md., 30. 

Colburn, Warren, series of readers, 140-141. 

Colet, on study of Latin, 107-109, 111. 

College of New Jersey. See Princeton College. 

Colleges. American, early instruction in grammar, 
36-42. Seealso Higher education. 

Colonial schools, reading and writing stressed, 17-18. 

Colonies, educational treatises, 55-56. 

Columbia College, early instructions grammar,37. 
See also King's College. 

Connecticut; legislation regarding grammar ,74. 

Constructive work, 149-153. 

Coote, Edmund, vernacular textbook for "pettie" 
schools, 12-13. 

Curriculum, Franklin's academy, 45-46; influence, 
adding grammar to, 43-69. 

Dame schools, New England, 18-19. 

Educational theories supporting grammar in 
America up to 1775, 55-69. 

Educational treatises in the colonies, 55-56. 

England, character of vernacular instruction (1596- 
1622), 12-15. 

English grammar, before 1775, 21-33; before 1784, 
33-36; before 1800, chronological catalogue, 155- 
157; early appearance in America, 21-42; inten- 
sive study, 6-8. 

"English grammar school, ' earliest uses of the 
name, 24-25. 

English schools, significance of rise, 76-77. 
English tongue, standardizing and preserving, 61- 

English vernacular, early instruction* 11-12. 
False syntax, 122-124. 
Formalism in grammar, protest, 143. 
Fowle, William B., on influence of Webster and 

Bingham, 79; study of EngUsh grammar, 131; 

study of grammar, 147, 149. 
Franklin, Benjamin, on instruction in EngUsh, 65; 

influence of his school, 49-55; scheme for English 

academy in Philadelphia, 49-55. 
Franklin and Turnbull, comparison of English 

programs, 158-159. 
Georgia, instruction in grammar, 31-32. 
Germantown Union School. Pa., instruction in 

grammar, 28. 
Gough, William, school in South Carolina con- 
sidered doubtful, 31. 
Grammar, definitions, 105-107. See also EngUsh 

Greenwood, James, on study of EngUsh grammar, 

Griffith, John, announcement of instruction in 

EngUsh grammar, 25. 
Harvard CoUege, early instruction in grammar, 

High schools, status of grammar in 1867, 101. 
Higher education for the masses in 1650 and in 1750, 

66-67. See also CoUeges. 
Hoole, Charles, description of vernacular instruc- 
tion at the end of the sixteenth century, 13-14. 
Hughes, Hugh, methods of teaching grammar, 

Inductive approach, agents and agencies, 140-143. 
Inductive movement, appUed to grammar, chief 

features, 144-153. 
Instruction, absence of grammatical, in EngUsh, 24; 

revolt against meaningless, 144-146; visual and 

oral, 146-149. 
Johnson, WilUam, EngUsh grammar school, in 

Charleston, S. C, 32, 64. 
Jones, Hugh, first American author of a textbook 

in English grammar, 33, 36-37. 
King's CoUege, first advertisement of English in- 
struction, 64; instruction in grammar, 36-37. See 

also Columbia College. 
Kirkham, Samuel, popularity of textbooks, 134- 

135; textbooks, 84, 87. 
Lancastrian system, 114-115. 
Latin, burden of learning, 56-58; revolt against, 

headed by John Locke, 11. 
Latin and rote periods, summary of methods, 

Latin grammar, methods of study in seventeenth 

century, 107-111; traditional methods of teaching 

transferred to EngUsh grammar, 103-131. 




Latin methods^ carried directly to English gram- 
mar, 111-120. 

Legislative recognition of grammar, 70-77. 

List of authorities cited, 161-168. 

Locke, John, and revolt against the Latin curricu- 
lum, 11-12. 

Lowth, Robert, on false syntax, 123; learning gram- 
mar, 113-114. 

Mann, Horace, and reform in study of grammar, 
142-145, 147. 

Maryland, instruction in grammar, 30, 53. 

Massachusetts, education in Colonial period, 15-17; 
instruction in grammar, 71-73; legislation regard- 
ing grammar, 85-87; textbooks in grammar, 85-87. 

May, Samuel J., on early use of blackboards, 149. 

Memorization, rules, 113-116; devices to aid, 116-118. 

Methods before 1850, gradual changes, 132-154. 

Methods used in grammar schools, New York, 128- 

Michigan, instruction in grammar, 98-99. 

Milton, John, on teaching English, 59. 

Murray, Lindley, on false syntax, 124; memorizing 
rules, 117; textbooks, 79-80, 83-84. 

New England, early education, 15-17; legislation 
regarding grammar, 70-73; rapid rise of grammar 
after Revolution, 70-76; teaching grammar before 
1775, 23-25. 

New England Primer, first book printed, 19. 

New Hampshire, instruction in grammar, 88, 97-98; 
legislation regarding grammar, 74-75. 

New Jersey, instruction in grammar, 26-28, 94-95. 

New York, first legislation to definitely speak of 
grammar, 73-74; grammar as part of curriculum 
of academies, 82-85; instruction in grammar, 25- 
26, 95-96; methods of teaching grammar, 128-130 
textbooks in grammar, 83-85. 

North Carolina, instruction in grammar, 90-92. 

Ohio, instruction in grammar, 96-97, 88-90. 

Oratory, instruction, 61-63, 65. 

Parsing, 120-122. See also False syntax. 

Pennsylvania, instruction in grammar, 29-30, 92-93; 
Pestalozzianism, and Roswell C. Smith, 135-138; 
criticisms by Goold Brown, 137-138. 

" Pettie schools," vernacular textbook, 12-13. 

Philadelphia Academy. See Academy and Charity 
School of Philadelphia. 

Princeton College, instruction in grammar, 38-39. 

Priestly, Joseph, argument for simplicity in teach- 
ing grammar, 119; false syntax, 124. 

Purposes of the study, 5-6. 

Queen's College, instruction in grammar, 40. 

Rand, Asa, on memorizing rules, 114. 

Rapid rise of English grammar after 1775, 70-102. 

Ray, James, on study of grammar, 148. 

Revolution, rapid rise of grammar after, 70. 

Rhode Island College, instruction in grammar, 

Rate periods and Latin, summary of methods, 

Rules of grammar. See Memorization. 

Rutgers College. See Queen's College. 

Schoolmasters teaching English grammar before 
1775, 21-33. 

Schools and schoolmasters, teaching grammar be- 
fore 1775, 21-33. 

Seventeenth century, education in the classics, 11. 

Sheridan, Thomas, on revival of the art of speaking, 
etc., 61-63. 

Simplifying terms, 118-119. 

Smith, Provost, on English instruction, 65. 

Smith, Roswell C, textbook, 84," 87, 135. 

See also Pestalozzianism. 

Somerset Academy, Maryland, 53. 

South Carolina, first school teaching the mother 
tongue "grammatically," 43. 

Standardizing and preserving the English tongue, 

Status of grammar (1850-1870), 92-102. 

Steele, Richard, on instruction in grammar, 58. 

Textbooks, flood after 1784, 77-82; in Colonies, 
68-69; nature of dominating (1823-1850), 134-140; 
representative States (1800-1850), 82-92. 

See also Bibliography. 

Turnbull and Franklin, comparison of English 
programs, 158-159. 

University of North Carolina, early instruction in 
grammar, 40-41. 

University of the State of New York, regents' re- 
port on English grammar, 73. 

Vermont, instruction in grammar, 87-88; legislation 
regarding grammar, 73. 

Vernacular instruction, character in America (1620- 
1720), 17-20; character in England, (1596-1622), 
12-15; reasons for early emphasis in America, 

Vernacular school, first important, 8. 

Virginia, instruction in grammar, 31-32. 

Visual and oral instruction, 146-149. 

Ward, Joseph, on absence of grammatical instruc- 
tion in English, 24; value of English to masses, 59. 

Ward, William, on memorizing rules, 115. 

Wassamacaw, S. C, first school teaching mother 
tongue "grammatically," 43. 

Waterland, William, teacher of grammar in South 
Carolina, 31. 

Watson, William, on school in Charleston, S. C, 60. 

Webster, Noah, rhetorical school in Hartford, Conn., 
77; textbooks, 77-78. 

Wells, William H., on oral instruction in grammar, 

Woodbridge, William C, on study of grammar, 


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